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Mike Runnels - Jukebox Boulevard 
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

Mike Runnels is country. The Austin, Texas singer songwriter knows how to twist and juice his lyrics, leaving you decidedly aware how life and love can leave you somewhere far from where it started. There’s a tear in the beer here. There’s ache. There’s pain. But isn’t that the stamp of a good country song? On these 10 tunes on Jukebox Boulevard, out now on Lucky Penny Records, Runnels pines, bares and refines the honesty.

Out now with his fourth country album, the low-key Runnels – you try finding fan photos – is retracing my comments given to his last album, Don’t Tell Candy

At the time, I said he was an acquired listen. He is. His voice isn’t funneled through a whiz-bang voice enhancer; there’s no Nashville gloss to his vocals, it’s more the honest lament of a guy, described, again, by me in that earlier review as someone who wears his heart on his cowboy shirt – right next to the beer stains picked up from leaning a little too long at the corner bar. Runnels is no Paisley and he surely doesn’t do it like George, Alan or Toby; he’s from a mold that leans more towards tradition, preferring classic to chart. 

The one-time former punk vocalist is well suited to his, now, preferred genre. He writes simply. He sings keenly. He delivers without fanfare. This is country music– a little twang, plenty of attitude and colored with the grit of a sawdust floor. It’s real. It’s honky tonk. It’s, as each new album shows, unique Runnels.

Tracks like “Come Home Darlin”, a tale of too many words said and too much drink drunk is a piano and steel Saturday night shuffler sure to connect with warring couples. The twang-led “Pretty Please” and the despondent “Lonely Street” are heart benders, while a change of tempo comes with the rocky “Your Turn To Cry” and the retro-sounding “Get Along”.

Overall, this is an album, when given the plays, grows on you. Runnels’ vibrato and melodic waver add style, while the actual songs reveal a songwriter with flair and substance. The primed studio band adds needed push and drive with tasteful doses of steel, piano and violin, making the package complete and a keeper for today’s country fan.


Related Links:   
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