Record Review - 4 November 18 2000

Texans are fiercely proud of their musical heritage. This legacy continues to grow as a new generation of performers come onto the scene, each bringing in their own unique perspective, but maintaining the traditional components that make them "Texas music." On Unleashed Live, Lucky Dog Records presents a dozen tunes by three of the Lone Star state's newest torchbearers: Jack Ingram and brothers Charlie and Bruce Robison. All three have albums on the label and this package serves to showcase choice cuts from those releases in a live setting. Recorded at the legendary Gruene Hall in central Texas, the spontaneous energy propels the material to a new level.
Bruce Robison kicks off the disc with some straight-up honky tonk tunes, with vocal support from brother Charlie and wife Kelly Willis, who adds her sweet voice to the poignant "Angry All the Time." Charlie Robison kicks the energy up a notch with "My Hometown," an anthem among the somewhat annoying frat-crowd that insists on singing along at certain moments (usually with anything having to do with drinking). The highlight of Charlie's set is the powerful "Loving County," among the best contemporary murder ballads around.
The disc concludes with Jack Ingram, who brings down the house with his own brand of rocking country. Singing about cars, blue-collar jobs and women, Ingram strikes an obvious chord with the fans, delivering those archetypes to a new generation with energy and a contemporary perspective. There's an underlying sense of irony when he sings about the ubiquitous "Barbie Doll"; his crowd is usually full of them.
George Jones asks "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes?" in reference to aging country music legends, but this disc makes clear that as long as a roadhouse remains standing in Texas, the state's rich musical traditions will carry into the 21st Century.
Jack Ingram performs at Smith's Olde Bar, Thurs., Nov. 16.