New Jersey-born actor gone hard-as-coffin-nails country heads to Nashville, scores record deal with legendary producer and is quickly anointed honky-tonk savior. In 1978 that script might have earned more than a smirk; now it sounds like another ploy to sucker No Depression subscribers -- all 23 of them. Moot Davis may be the real deal, but only because country music has been marketing and manufacturing authenticity since Jimmie Rodgers posed in a conductor's cap as "The Singing Brakeman." Still, there's no faking talent, and Davis, while rarely an overpowering singer, sports the charisma and songwriting chops of a honky-tonk natural. The pleasures of his ultra-trad-yet-fresh debut owe as much to producer/guitarist/genius Pete Anderson as to bandmates who scoot and strut and even rock like they just heard Prohibition had been repealed. Davis doesn't stray much from country tropes; he knows highways, heartaches, whiskey and wine are archetypes for a reason, and he handles them the way he sings: without affectation or pretension, with no greater goal than swinging seven ways to Saturday night. Word to all BR549 and Wayne Hancock fans: Do not miss this ticket to hillbilly heaven.
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