Junior Brown has always been a tough nut to crack, what with his Don Rich-meets-Jimi Hendrix-meets alien space invaders licks and Ernest Tubb-on-acid vocals.

Junior Brown has always been a tough nut to crack, what with his Don Rich-meets-Jimi Hendrix-meets alien space invaders licks and Ernest Tubb-on-acid vocals. But he's no joke, and his new Curb release is perhaps his best ever, deftly melding jaw-dropping "guit-steel" solos with authentic, Texas-style country. The rambunctious "Guitar Man" will part one's hair, while such homespun Brown compositions as "Ain't Gonna Work Today" and the rad-and-trad, steel-laced "Our First Bluebonnet Spring" are new Junior gems. Brown is a master of clever wordplay, evidenced here on the spy-twang opus "Cagey Bea" and square-peg tale "Little Town Square." "Catfish and Collard Greens" is deliciously manic, and Brown kills on Tubb's own "Kansas City Blues." He wraps things up with a guit-steel clinic on "The Chase." A definite keeper.—RW