Blessed is the musician who can cure an ophthalmic migraine with a little levity, Texas twang and sweet steel guitar. Sonny Burgess’ style of vintage honky tonk brings sounds that soothe. With the opening track of his sophomore album, Stronger, this singing cowboy from Cleburne gets caught up in a conundrum called “What Else Could Go Right?” After years of Republican-saturated politics, well, that’s a damn good question. But this country crooner ain’t talking about polemics. Instead, he’s got a gallon of red wine, a broken-down vehicle stuck on the side of the road, and a fine young lady. It’s a cowboy cliché, to be sure, but dang, it sure is catchy.
Burgess, who shares monikers (but little else) with a Sun Records rockabilly pioneer beloved by cultists, plays with an amazingly talented band and the real stars on many of these songs are pedal-steel players Dan Dugmore and Mike Johnson. Hats off as well to fiddle players Larry Franklin and Rob Hajacos. They really put the coup de maitre to songs such as “Red Neck Lullabies” and “Living on Nine.”
| Stronger Sonny Burgess (CPI Records)
“A Little Bit Stronger” feels a bit overproduced and bombarded with backup vocals. The song itself could be the soaring soundtrack to a Powerpoint presentation about antidepressants. Otherwise, these tunes stand up to all that mud flap you’re likely to hear on contemporary country radio these days.