The Cedar Creek Sessions
Austin-based country rock band Stonehoney would seem to have everything going for them: they’ve been picked up by artist-led label Music Road Records, and their first album is 14 songs chosen from 40 that they recorded entirely live over four days in the label’s studios. This is a band with no passengers – all four write the songs, and all four sing lead vocals, and play some blistering guitar. So maybe it’s only the anticipation of what this perfect storm could produce that leads to a vague sense of disappointment with the outcome.
And that’s a reflection of some of the songs. This is an album heavy in breakup songs, and those simply don’t seem to break new ground, in fact they sound formulaic and rather old-fashioned. The better songs are almost invariably those that move away from the breakup theme. They include a couple of love songs, as well as the engine-revving “White Knuckle Wind”. The standout song is a modern-day prison lament, “Good as Gone”.
And the disappointment is only vague. Stonehoney are clearly a band of considerable talent and energy. Comprised of Shawn Davis on electric guitar, Phil Hurley on lead electric guitar, David Phenicie on bass guitar and Nick Randolph on acoustic guitar, the band transplanted itself from Los Angeles and has already found success in the Austin music scene. For the album, they’ve called on guest players including former Wilco drummer Ken Coomer and legendary pianist Earl Poole Ball.
They should receive much credit for recording live, and their playing and vocal harmonies are top-notch. The Cedar Creek Sessions may be missing a little in terms of showcasing the band’s songs, but it certainly showcases the band itself, and on the assumption that this is a good indication of what they sound like on stage, it should certainly encourage a good turnout to their live shows.