Staying true to their Appalachian Roots, Brokedown Hustlers’ new live release “Blessin’ the Woods On Fire” combines laid-back acoustic twang, ripping picking, and unfiltered debauchery. Without the ingrained limits of studio recording, this album truly showcases the band’s ability to fill in the gaps and keep the energy churning. While this increased energy has the tradeoff of being a bit unpolished in places, you get the feeling that Brokedown Hustlers wear “rough around the edges” as a well-earned badge.
With songs leaning heavily on lyrical storytelling, this live album invokes the image of a whiskey-soaked midsummer night spent around a smoldering smoky fire. A band of outlaws bound by the art of song, Brokedown Hustlers spin webs of stories matching in tone and intensity with the yearning twang and groove of their strings.
Standouts of this album include “Yellow Roses,” a longing song of love far away that swings along sweet and sincere, and “Headier Than Thou,” a high-energy satirical take on the scene to which we belong (with a nice Grateful Dead tease at the beginning). Throughout, the tone often bounces back and forth between raw, beautiful, and comical while still staying true to a singular voice.
Instrumentally, the Hustlers show a nice dynamic and allow every instrument to shine in their own spots. There are some nice extended jams peppered throughout, but are kept relatively short throughout within the usual “verse/chorus/verse” structure. One of the best instrumental parts of the album comes from “Try to Smile,” which evolves from a rugged-sounding ballad into a beautiful, organic jam.
Overall, this album has plenty to love for any jamgrass fan. If twang strikes your fancy, these folks got what you need. The album is available to stream and purchase at brokedownhustlers.com/music