Whiskey & Co.’s sound hasn’t changed, even if a couple members have. On their third record, the Gainesville band continues their old-school flavored country that spends as much time regretting past decisions as it does swilling beer at the corner bar. Like its predecessors, Rust Colors mines familiar themes- exploring the emotional gamut and adding a bit of boogie-down twang to the No Idea lineup.
The album kicks off with the fast paced “Top Poppin’” and “Beer for…”, that give the impression of an upbeat, raise-your-glass record, with lyrics like “I’d rather be fishing…I’d rather be laying the shade than working for some fucking jerk.” While the band clearly enjoys their vices, the title track sets a solemn tone that carries over the full record. Mid-tempo contemplative songs comprise the majority of the record, with rich, descriptive lyrics that emphasize Helm’s expressive voice. She conveys a world-weariness in her voice that sounds vaguely like Natalie Merchant with a touch of waver. Guitarist Brian Johnson also lends his Southern drawl on a number of songs. He typically chimes in for a verse here and there while Helm carries the lead, but he has a more prominent role here than on earlier releases.
Beyond Helm’s reflective voice, the harmonies in songs like “Rest Stop” give a relatable feel that keep the downtrodden emotions from being overbearing. Instead, the group counters her reflections with a communal air of “the world sucks, but we’re all in this together,” as in “Road to Nowhere” when the band chimes in with a group, “tell the whole fucking world they can go to hell” that energizes the song and gives an element of sassy rebellion that overrides the gloominess. Most of the songs fall right around two minutes in length, making the record a quick play, with some of the choruses being a bit over-repetitive.
While it may be on a punk label, the band plays music true to its roots, without hybridization or irony. For sticking to a genre, each song sounds different, cleverly crafted and, most important, honest. The blend of Helm’s weary voice and the group support makes Rust Colors a quick burst of old country lament, aptly followed with a trip to the bar.
7.7 / 10
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