Trouble just might be the Randy Rogers Band’s best album to date. Though a few RRB purists might be caught off guard by some of the new wrinkles heard on the band’s sixth studio album, the ultimate payoff makes for an exciting ride courtesy of the Texas-bred band.
In stores now, Trouble marks the first collaboration between the quintet and in-demand producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church’s Chief, Little Big Town’s Tornado). Though Randy’s bittersweet melodies and Lone Star drawl still ache through the album’s 11 songs, Jay Joyce’s dynamic and atmospheric dial provides the band’s sound with a whole new dimension.
Listening to the current single, “Fuzzy,” the new partnership immediately pays dividends. Loose notes and rough-edged distortion give the song a bite while Randy’s easy vocal rhythm draws listeners deep inside the seedy story. Waking up in a hot tub hung over with a mouth feeling somewhat like a tennis ball is only the beginning here. On the cathartic, “One More Sad Song,” fleeting percussion introduces acoustic chords and a heartfelt verse recognizing the beginning of a lonely future. Fiddle player Brady Black leads a dramatic interlude while drummer Les Lawless is completely in step. Each member of the band, including guitarist Geoffrey Hill and bassist Jon Richardson, sound refreshed and renewed on the new set.
This isn’t to say the band has changed their identity. Really, they’ve only just developed it further. The downtrodden, “If I Had Another Heart,” and uptempo opener, “Goodbye Lonely,” both recall the vulnerable qualities so many fans are familiar with. The sad piano notes and melodic chorus of “Speak Of The Devil” build to a dramatic finish on what is a quintessentially rugged ‘Randy Rogers Band ballad,’ and the troubadour tune, “Had To Give That Up Too,” offers a soulful glance at a lonely man. I miss the taste / I miss the high / And the way it made me burn inside, Randy sings with an evocative yearning, spinning metaphors of cigarettes and alcohol into a sharp story of an irresistible woman. The album’s closing tune, “Never Got Around To That,” which holds the record’s most intimate vocal performance, carries trademark RRB melodies and themes while also succeeding in reaching new heights with a willingness to take chances on more difficult passages.
Fellow Texan Willie Nelson joins on the full steam, harmonica-driven, “Trouble Knows My Name.” Poker games and gun fights fuel the outlaw train song featuring a unique chemistry between the two singers that shows up in dynamic harmonies. Trouble also includes a second gunslinger anthem, the rowdy “Shotgun,” which stands as one of the album’s best tracks. A melodic banjo run, Western fiddle and heavy bass drum set the mood as descriptions of “whiskey” and “wickedness” play through. [I] Pray that I don’t ever lose control, Randy sings, hoping not to see that side of himself again.
Texas is in the Randy Rogers Band’s blood and songs like the smitten love song, “Flash Flood,” reflect this beautifully. Tumbleweed rhythms and a wonderful chorus full of meaningful melodies easily take hold of the listener. In many ways, the same can be said about this album, which has no trouble settling in and commanding attention.
Key Tracks “Flash Flood,” “Shotgun,” “One More Sad Song,” “Trouble Knows My Name (feat. Willie Nelson)”