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Willie Heath Neal/Out of Highway.


2009 release. 1.Cryin' All the Time - 2:41 2 Even Alive - 3:03 3 Off My Mind - 2:50 4 Porters Blues - 2:48 5 Something's Wrong with the Radio - 3:04 6 One More Day - 4:04 7 Outlaw Song - 2:36 8 She's a Heartbreaker - 2:52 9 Alabama Highway - 3:42 10 The Classifieds - 2:48 11 Attitude - 2:13 12 Out of Highway - 4:24 Review: Five songs into Willie Heath Neal's wonderful 2009 offering Out of Highway, the modern-day outlaw born in the back of a cop car sums up the entire album, declaring "everybody tells me it's a hit song, there's just something' wrong with the radio." Obviously there are all sorts of reasons that artists and their songs don't get the attention they deserve, most of all luck and expensive publicists, but "There's Something Wrong with the Radio" and a handful of the album's other 11 songs fully deserve hit status, and there's really not a track here that could be described as anything less than stellar. From Neal's rich baritone and excellent vocal delivery and timing, to his catchy-as-hell choruses and constant hooks, to his funny but sad storyteller lyrics, to the clean production full of punch and bright guitars, to the great backing band, and finally to the smart songwriting that makes the best of all these previous elements, everything makes for a deadly authentic look at a circa 2009 cowboy and begs for repeat listens to catch every nuance and beat. "The Classifieds" has a similar stomp and charm to the Charlie Daniels Band hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," with Neal expertly laying out a lightning-like auctioneer-style slice-of-life tale of a guy browsing the classifieds, heading down some dirt roads and into a field of cowpies to pay $28.50 for a quarter-ton pickup truck, and tussling with a German shepherd named Frank. "Outlaw Song" is another example where Neal paints a somewhat touching portrait of a struggling touring country artist using humor and hooks galore as he describes a girlfriend or wife who needs "a suit and tie briefcase guy, a man with money in the bank, a good-lucking guy (her) family will like, who don't go so drunk when he drinks." How can Neal's nearly broke outlaw protagonist surviving on "whiskey, pills, and whores" maintain that kind of relationship? The rip-roaring "Attitude" presents a more riled-up rebel, with Neal doling out threats and finely timed profanity to someone with a "f***ing attitude." Obviously there's plight in such a life and in the characters who inhabit Neal's story-songs, but the sadness is all the more fascinating and illuminating under the mostly upbeat foot-stomping, rocking country playing peppered with chiming guitars, rolling pianos, gleeful banjos, fuzzy harmonicas, and mournful fiddles. The toe-tapping stomp only truly slows on the haunting closing ballad that shares the album's title, as Neal sings about possibly some day settling down when he (or the song's character) runs out of highway. Out of Highway is a winning album from start to finish, loaded with catchy choruses, badass hooks, crusty tales, and brilliant tunes, presenting Willie Heath Neal as a thoroughly modern country outlaw as relevant to his time as Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings were to theirs. Whether or not radio or the mass media discover him, a cult of fans certainly will. ~ Tim DiGravina, All Music Guide Credits: Amanda "Pearl" Shires - Fiddle Clay A. Broome - Guitar (Electric) Mark Robertson - Bass (Electric), Guitar (Baritone), Guitar (Electric), Organ, Producer, Vocals (Background) Matthew Cox - Engineer Nathan Dantzler - Mastering Porter McClister - Banjo, Guitar (Electric) Steve Latanation - Percussion, Vocals (Background) Steve Mabee - Engineer, Mixing Willie Heath Neal - Guitar (Acoustic), Vocals
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