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Josh Abbott Band, ‘Small Town Family Dream’ – Album Review

Small Town Family Dream
Pretty Damn Tough Records

If there was any question about Josh Abbott’s intention as a Texas country artist, he answers it on ‘Small Town Family Dream,’ his third studio album. Actually, he doesn’t just answer the question, he pulls a hot poker out of the fire and brands his love for the Lone Star state across his chest, back and arms. There’s no doubt where the Josh Abbbott Band frontman’s loyalty lies.

He also makes his disdain for Nashville clear. ‘I’ll Sing About Mine’ is the album’s flagship song. Those who agree with his evaluation of Music City will likely enjoy what he has to say on the remaining 10 songs (11 if you get the bonus track). The singer gets personal when singing that “Tractors ain’t sexy” during his assault on country radio. “The radio is full of rich folks singing about places they’ve never seen,” he adds soon after.

‘Flatland Farmer’ offers the same message with more artistry than ‘I’ll Sing About Mine.’ From there, songs like ‘Dallas Love’ and ‘My Texas’ (featuring Pat Green) pour cement over any ideas that Abbott is looking to go mainstream.

Vocally, Abbott is limited, but he makes the most of his talents with honest and urgent stories of small town America. A few songs that get overlooked amongst the Texas love letters are perhaps the best on the album (available now). ‘Idalou,’ ‘She Will Be Free’ and ‘Rain Finally Coming Down’ come with sharp, imaginative lyrics that more than make up for pedestrian melodies. There are a few moments — specifically during the chorus of ‘Hotty Toddy’ — where Abbott sounds like a young Garth Brooks. Whether or not this is a compliment to a singer focused on railing against “the establishment” isn’t clear, but it certainly should be.

3.5 Stars

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