Ever since Lynyrd Skynyrd sang the praises of Sweet Home Alabama, southern-fried American rock bands have been defending their turf. Actually, Whiskey Myers come from Texas, but they are, as they admit, “steeped in and influenced by the traditions of the south”. That goes for their extracurricular activities as much as their music, which is mostly hard’n’heavy, with lashings of country and blues, and a healthy dose of R&B and rock’n’roll.
When he’s not on tour, singer and acoustic guitarist Cody Cannon is likely to be “found out in the woods, huntin’ or fishin”, unreconstructed macho pursuits for such grizzled rockers. Meanwhile, on Mud, the band’s follow-up to 2015’s well-received Early Morning Shakes, there’s plenty of barroom boogie and the kind of booze-soaked riffing you’d expect to have emanated from Muscle Shoals.
On Mud, Whiskey Myers make the kind of spirited racket purveyed by Gov’t Mule, Black Stone Cherry, Blackberry Smoke, Supersonic Blues Machine et al. It’s a thriving scene, and Whiskey Myers earn their place in it here. On The River opens the album with acoustic picking, weeping violin, slide guitar and a whiskey-ravaged croak as the rhythm section unleash a boot-tapping beat halfway between a country hoedown and Americana rock-out. The title track has both grungy power and grinding menace. It ends with the sound of a spaceship whirring down to earth, the album’s sole concession to modernity. The rest is a retreat from the now, designed to provide comfort in these difficult times.
Rollicking single Lightning Bugs And Rain Cannon invites listeners to ‘sit out on the porch’. Deep Down In The South reclaims the region as a redneck paradise. On the ballad Trailer We Call Home, Cannon’s depiction of a white-trash milieu recognisable from the movies is so adroitly realised that it becomes strangely glamorous.
In a way, this blue-collar idolatry is as stylised as the most affected art rock – on Stone, Cannon pronounces ‘singing’ as ‘sanging’. You’ll either dismiss it as an antediluvian throwback or Allmans-aping ambrosia. Some Of Your Love is litigiously similar to Bad Company’s Can’t Get Enough, but it’s done with such gusto you forgive them. The mandolin-enhanced closer finds guest country artist Brent Cobb declaring these the Good Ole Days.
It climaxes with infectious laughter and – Classic Rock shits you not – a ‘yee-haw’. It’s testament to Mud’s intoxicating charms that you’ll be yee-hawing, too.