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The Road Hammers - Self-Titled Debut
By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

This one should come with an advisory sticker. Please play loud…and often. Canadian country star, Jason McCoy, has achieved his aim. That is: to marry tar and cement to the driving backbeat of trucking and the revealing strains of the highway. On the band’s 14 track debut, McCoy and his brother Hammers, who incidentally snagged some notable awards at the recent Canadian Country Music Awards, haul and deliver their rock ’n’ country cargo without hitting too many potholes.

For an album that starts with the fired ignition of a multi-wheeler, only to end with absolutely nothing –“Absolutely Nothing” comically offers, well, absolutely nothing – the set comes charged, hard and heavy. The band offer more in their liner notes: “This very well could be the ultimate road trip album, for whatever distance you’re travelling, and whatever size rig you’re haulin’!” It’s an ambitious claim, but the offered energy of a band primed on white lines and octane is infectious. And for truckers, honed on miles and hours of white-line fever, played, as suggested, loud and often, this album will keep the road warriors interested long after the coffee kick wears.

For McCoy, a 2004 CCMA Male Vocalist of The Year, a writer with four albums and a greatest hits package due for release, the ambition to pay credit to the road with gritty homage comes realized with The Road Hammers. With McCoy on guitars, comes Albertan Clayton Bellamy, and bass player, Chris Byrne, together they pump with hard- to-the-floor twang.

The album fires up with “I’m A Road Hammer”. The track is sure to enjoy immediate bonding with those who lug the load – an oily anthem of sorts. Speaking directly to the guy with his hand on the oversized wheel, the tune records the plight with a steady beat and tight harmonies. “Overdrive” with its frenzied push, and lyrics that tell you’ve got keep rollin’ just to survive, is more of the same, while “Keep On Trucking” is a snaky, blues-fused route to the Del Reeves hit “Girl On The Billboard”. The tune, a chart-topper for Reeves in ’65, is a guitar-laced memory with just enough reworking to make it fresh.

Jerry Reed’s classic, “Eastbound & Down,” enjoys the hammered touch. The track, best remembered from Smoky and the Bandit, enjoys revival and restoration, sitting comfortably with the mood and charter of the album.

Pulling back a gear or two, there’s a change of pace on “Call It A Day”. Mellow and reflective, the tune highlights the reality of a trucker’s life. It’s a life as divided as the highway travelled –there’s an obligated life on the road and missed time from family at home. It’s a tune, co-written by McCoy, Tim Taylor, and one of Canada’s hottest writers, Steve Fox. It drives home in lay terms that for every choice we make, there’s a price that’s paid.

Including a bloopers’ track, “Flat Tires,” seems wasted here. So, too, is “Absolutely Nothing” – a five-second ode to silence. The reprise of “I’m A Road Hammer” is space that could have enjoyed a cover from the band’s liner heroes, namely, Del Reeves or Red Sovine. Anyhow, those minor grumbles aside, this is an album not for cowpokes, cheats and hustlers, rather, it’s prime twang and gristle for the man and woman who travels a thankless land in often unforgiving circumstances.

The album’s jacket advised the CD came enhanced with a band video and a screen saver; no such luck when I went to play it. The Hammer logo appeared and nothing else. Not that I was worried, mind you. It allowed me time to shift drives, crank the volume, and follow my own advice of playing this one loud and often.

www.theroadhammers.com

Buy The CD Now!

 

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