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2005
| BS 114
$5.95

Empty House

These songs may make you want to cry, but you won’t want the guys on the barstools next to you to see that, so grip the frosty mug and just keep smilin', buddy. Just keep smilin'.

Full Description

These days, it seems that originality in Country music is an oxymoronic proposition. The hillbilly highway to the top is jammed with tour buses full of publicists, make-up artists, wardrobe consultants, jean ironers, boot lickers, and, oh yeah, a guy in the back with a guitar. Littering the airwaves and outlet malls of America is their vacuous, fist-pumping brand of soft-rock arena country. It is music that takes its production cues from Sting, not Buck, harkens to the songbook of Glen Frey, not Glen Campbell, and prefers highwire acts and smoke machines to the kind of sharp wordplay and archetypal themes the music used to stand for.

On their fourth CD, Rex and the boys deliver on the promise that between nostalgia and progress is timelessness. Within their realm of unabashed purveyors of straight, hard-edged honky-tonk, the band still manages to come off as fresh and innovative. Their outlook from the heart of country music gives them a clear shot at the crux of the identity crisis at its core: Who am I now that she is gone? What will become of me? Why do I keep doing this to myself?

From clownish desperation, to escape fantasies you don’t have the strength to act on, to regret, to being driven to insanity, Rex's old school writing breathes a harrowing honesty back into a form that too often staggers down the Hallmark card aisle. Only Rex could make you feel sorry for a man lamenting the failure of his extra-marital affair. All of this is backed by the Misery Boys' airtight mastery.

These songs may make you want to cry, but you won’t want the guys on the barstools next to you to see that, so grip the frosty mug and just keep smilin', buddy. Just keep smilin'.

Short Description
  • This retro-leaning quintet shines due to Hobart's songwriting, which combines honky-tonk melodies with the carefully crafted poetry of a barstool psychiatrist [and] the unfettered production allows the listener to hear the space between the instrumental parts; the pedal steel work, in particular, is indispensable.

    — Chicago Sun-Times
  • [They] do it with aplomb, setting the stories to a solid honky-tonk backdrop and trouncing the urge to wallow with humor, self-deprecation and surprise... [It] suggests that misery may be as unstoppable as nature.

    — No Depression
  • Once again they pin country music to its roots while occasionally letting it squirm out and go elsewhere. Hobart's songwriting has always been good, but it makes a leap here. His stories have a literary sense of detail and just about every line contains a painful truth

    — Chicago Reader

Track List

  • 1. The Good Ain't Gone
  • 2. Every Night I Leave You in My Mind
  • 3. Don't Make Me Break Your Heart
  • 4. It Won't Be Long (And I'll Be Hating You)
  • 5. I Just Lost My Mind
  • 6. I Don't Like that Mirror
  • 7. The Tear I Left Behind
  • 8. Empty House Dawn and Twilight
  • 9. Let's Leave Me
  • 10. Heartache to Hide
  • 11. Black Iron Bridge

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