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Two Tons of Steel, ‘Unraveled’ is a Music-Lover’s Album – CD Review

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I have to admit, I wasn’t familiar with Two Tons of Steel until the band released ‘Not That Lucky’ a few years back. But from first listen, I was hooked. I loved the fact that there was a band that could be far off the beaten path, yet sound so cool and polished and professional. Their new CD, ‘Unraveled’, features more of that quirky coolness that we’ve come to expect from Two Tons, and more.

The Lloyd Maines-produced ‘Unraveled’ wakes you up from the get-go with the energy-infused ‘Really Want You’. This song absolutely rocks. The distortion on lead singer Kevin Geil’s voice is a great touch, and gives the tune attitude and drive.

Two Tons of Steel – ‘Really Want You’

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After all that, ‘Crazy Heart’ almost sounds like a ballad. An Augie Meyers-penned tune, it’s injected with more than a hint of Tejano sound. The harmonies during the chorus of ‘Crazy Heart’ are perfect, and this song has me wishing more bands featured upright bass. Kudos to Jake Marchese.

‘Ease My Mind’ is a song that seems to have the best shot at reaching a mainstream Texas music audience. It’s calmer, far more melodic and features a lot of acoustic guitar. Geil’s fluttering vocal style is naturally enhanced on slower songs, and gives an added dimension to the Two Tons sound.

Two Tons of Steel – ‘Ease My Mind’

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I had to listen to ‘Busted’ twice. The first time, it took me until nearly halfway through the song to realize it was a cover of the song Johnny Cash made famous on his ‘Live From Folsom Prison’ album. It’s that different. The second time through, I gained a new found appreciation for what Two Tons did for the song. I never thought a Cash tune could be made cooler, but this version is right up there with the Man in Black.

‘Mama’, and ‘This Life of Mine’ follow. By this point in the CD, if you don’t realize you’re listening to musical excellence, you need to go buy a Kenny Chesney record and move on.

‘No Beer’ is the song I would demand to hear live. I realized this when these lyrics passed through my speakers:

There had to have been a million people in that place
All yelling cheers with smiles on their face
There were girls kissing guys
Girls kissing girls
There was some drunk dude dancing with a squirrel

The end of ‘No Beer’ segues into a live rendition of the song, complete with what I can only assume was a beer-soaked audience helping the tune along.

‘Pool Cue’ has a smooth Waylon Jennings-inspired feel. The whole song is cool, but Brian Duarte’s guitar is the star of this one. ‘One More Time’ is catchy. The drums sound like Paul Ward was getting paid by the busted drum stick. ‘Can’t Stop Us Now’ finishes up the CD on a very punk note. It’s got a dizzying pace that will make your heart race just listening.

I didn’t think I would like any Two Tons of Steel music more than what is on ‘Not That Lucky’, but I was wrong. This is Two Tons’ most well-rounded effort to date, filled with timeless music.

Two Tons of Steel have been around for more than two decades. The San Antonio-based quartet puts a bit of a southern spin on traditional rockabilly, and it makes for a refreshingly unique sound. The talent in this band is the stuff that fellow musicians rave about, and fans follow obsessively. With the new CD, I can definitely see that fan base growing.

Two Tons of Steel ‘Unraveled’ Track List

1.  Really Want You (Geil/Duarte/Ward)
2.  Crazy Heart (Augie Meyers)
3.  Ease My Mind (Geil/Duarte/Ward)
4.  Busted (Harlan Howard)
5.  Mama (Geil/Duarte/Ward)
6.  This Life of Mine (Geil/Duarte/Ward)
7.  No Beer (Geil/Duarte/Ward)
8.  Hell Cat (Geil/Duarte/Ward)
9.  Pool Cue (Phil Thomas)
10.  One More Time (Roy Head)
11.  Can’t Stop Us Now (Rhoades/Thomas)

Johnny Cooper Coming to the Lucky Mule for the KEAN 105 Free Summer Concert Series July 26th

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