The fact that Texas music titans Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock — on their first go-round as The Flatlanders in 1972 — were completely rejected by the country music establishment is surprising in retrospect but, ultimately, poetic. That each went on to have formidable solo careers is a testament to their talent and determination. Add to this their diverse yet complimentary styles — Joe the street-wise rocker, Jimmie Dale the mystic with the classic country voice and Butch the cerebral folk singer — and you've got a story of one of the most extraordinary kinships in American musical history.
It took these Flatlanders a mere three decades to release the sequel to their legendary debut. So the swift arrival of the group's latest New West album Wheels of Fortune — which comes hard on the heels of 2002's widely acclaimed Now Again — is a delightful and very welcome surprise. The fourteen songs that make up Wheels Of Fortune are absolute wonders of songcraft, sung by three of the most authentic voices in music today.