The Boxmasters is quite the prolific band. They have only been together for a couple of years and already they have released two double albums and a Christmas disc. On their latest double album Modbilly, the band sticks with the the old school country sound that hearkens back to the days of Hank Williams Sr., George Jones, and Patsy Cline.
Just like their self-titled debut, the first disc is a set of originals that are perfect for square dancing, but they have a lyrical edge to them that, if you’re not paying attention, will go right by you. “That’s Why Tammy Has My Car” is a hilarious trek through, well, why Tammy has his car. The chorus says it all: “I’m a moron/ (He’s a moron)/ I’m a dummy/ (He’s a dummy)/ I’m an irresponsible washout/ And a debit to my gender/ I spend too much time in bars/ I let the asshole go too far/ And that’s why Tammy has my car.” The rest of the song chronicles how he burned the dinette set during a fight, she kicks him out and then starts dating a lawyer who is the head of the Bar. It is a “woe is me” country classic that feeds into every preconceived notion of what a country song is all about. It’s perfect.
The bluegrass feel of “Hollow Walls” camouflages the dark lyrics describing how “these hollow walls barely hold up this house of pain.” “Heartbreaking Wreck” sounds like something that came directly from the Dwight Yoakam catalog.
The second disc, just like the debut, is nothing but covers that continue to pay homage to the old school country that they are so diligently attempting to resurrect. Tom Rush’s “Merrimack County” is perfectly covered, sounding more contemporary than anything else on either disc, and lead singer Billy Bob Thornton stretches his vocal range to the limits, adding an extra layer of emotional depth to a song about leaving and coming back on one’s own terms.
They also effectively cover Roger Miller’s somber, but realistic “Half a Mind” detailing why “I have half a mind/ To leave you.”
Modbilly is another great addition to the quickly growing collection that The Boxmasters is building. If you yearn for country music the way it used to be, this is the perfect remedy.
The Boxmasters: www.theboxmasters.com