There's nothing more satisfying than a catchy song about Montana's awesomeness. Local honky tonkers Russ Nasset & The Revelators kick off Blue Highway with the title track about how big cities offer "fools in suits" and "pretty girls who don't recall your name." It could have made a great finale, but I love that it's the first song, setting the tone with chorus, "Oh, Montana! I'm goin' home." It means we know exactly, geographically, where the heart of the album lies.
"Needless to Say," could be a long lost Sam Cooke song, and "Honky Tonkin Guitar Man" celebrates bar touring with the blue-collar sensibility of the classic "Six Days on the Road." Despite those comparisons, all the songs here are smartly written originals, with tight production, beautiful pedal steel, Russ' perfectly twangy vocals and knockout solos from Russ' son, Sam Nasset, who is nothing short of a guitar ace.
The album goes from heartbreak ("Grey Life"), to cynicism ("I Hope I Never Fall in Love Again"), to falling in love ("Somebody Steals Your Heart"), with the witty ease of big timers like George Jones and Dwight Yoakam. That's good stuff. When a country album's done right, you know it, and this is definitely one for the jukebox.
Russ Nasset & The Revelators play a CD release show at the Great Northern Bar & Grill in Whitefish Friday, Nov. 19, and Sat., Nov. 20, at 9 PM. Free.