Reckless Kelly

The packaging for Reckless Kelly's most recent release, Wicked Twisted Road, contains a miniature die and a foldout board game based on its lyrics. Its country-folk tearjerkers ("Wretched Again," "These Tears") set players back several spaces, while its Celtic romps and honky-tonk numbers propel them toward the finish line. Other markers reveal the Austin-based quintet's classic rock pedigree (a Skynyrd-style "Plane Crash" means game over, while landing on the "Cover of Rolling Stone" like Dr. Hook pays off). In addition to scoring its self-contained amusement, Wicked Twisted Road serves as an ideal soundtrack for an evening of beer-drinking, gambling and wistful reminiscences about wrecked romances. Weary-voiced singer Willy Braun excels at bitter kiss-offs ("you want the credit / but can't you see / these tears don't fall for you") and vaguely threatening expressions of devotion ("I'm never gonna let you go / You're the one sure thing I've found / so you better stick around"). David Abeyta's searing work on electric, slide and 12-string guitars merges with furious fiddling during the album's most intense passages, while acoustic picking, harmonicas and piano reinforce its high-lonesome moods. Reckless Kelly's live shows offer even more excitement than its records: It's the difference between a bells-and-whistles quiz show and its static home-game companion.

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