Livin' the Life

A honky-tonker with an authoritative baritone and a rough-hewn way with words, Elbert West has conjured an unapologetic barroom brawl of a debut.

A honky-tonker with an authoritative baritone and a rough-hewn way with words, Elbert West has conjured an unapologetic barroom brawl of a debut. "Crawlin' Time" is a 100-proof shuffle performed with aplomb, and "Side of the Road" is a rambling trucker song without the truck. "Neon Light," "Sinner," and "(This One's Gonna) Leave a Mark" are confident redneck moaners that sit squarely in Bocephus territory, and the title cut is a swampy, stoic blue-collar midtempo. Another highlight is "Robin Loves to Hear Me Sing," an easy-rollin' take on the motivation for heading to Nashville to give the biz a shot. Even such ballads as "My Last Resort" and the powerhouse "Everything That He's Not" have an appealing edge. Traditional country that bites like a shot of Wild Turkey. Contact 615-297-0148.—RW