Eli Young Band - 10,000 Towns
Album number six from this Texas country-rock four-piece broadens their appeal and ensures their position as one of country’s top acts of 2014. The band delivers an edgy set of modern country tunes marked by Mike Eli’s powerful expressive voice. He is joined by his one-time college buddy James Young (lead guitar, harmony vocals), Jon Jones (bass, harmony vocals) and Chris Thompson (drums). The epitome of modern day Americana, the band’s music is all aching Telecaster twangs and weeping pedal steel—shot through with unapologetic hooks and melodies sweet like honey nectar. Tracks like Dust and Just Add Moonlight recall the Eagles-esque rock, a sound that keeps emerging and tapping in time on today’s satisfied country psyche. For me, that’s not a bad thing, after all, the Eagles’ DESPERADO remains one of the finest country albums of the 1970s.
There’s a wealth of great songs on this album. Band members share in the writing honours on at least half the tracks, often working in tandem with Music Row tunesmiths. Opener, Drunk Last Night, sounds instantly timeless … bursting out of the gates with a bar room honky-tonk swagger, Eli’s regret at a relationship misunderstanding hits a home run. Equally impressive is Your Last Broken Heart. Like all great country songs it’s simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting … life affirming even. Then there’s the acoustic country-pop of A Lot Like Love, the lovely harmonies of Angel Like You and the gentle, yearning melody of What Does.
Tight harmonies and hook-laden melodies are strewn about the album in heavy concentration. As an added bonus, this record has the same beguiling energy of the band’s live performances, something less genuine groups cannot produce. Eli Young Band could be the Restless Heart or BlackHawk of today’s mainstream country scene … they really are that good.