The Upshot: Yeah, Hank woulda done it like this.
BY FRED MILLS
Coming on the heels of last year’s self-titled debut, L.A.-by-way-of-South-Carolina outlaw country rocker Ben Bostick’s Hellfire (available on vinyl as well as digital formats) lives up to its title, delivering eleven tore up/tore down honky tonk anthems guaranteed to put the club’s beer sales through the roof for the night (and maybe even prompt some post-show, late-night lovin’ among club patrons that bears fruit 9 months later). Salty, sexy, and as swaggering as it comes, the album finds Bostick and his crack backing band storming through a mélange of music that suggests a hard-drinking summit between hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Guy Clark, Jerry Lee Lewis, and fellow newcomer Sturgill Simpson.
Such are the pleasures of such tracks as the Big Easy-infused “It Ain’t Cheap Being Poor,” the hard twangin’ title track (a call-and-response slice of Bakersfield rockabilly), a sinewy ditty titled “Work, Sleep, Repeat” which, believe it or not, Bostick wrote as a line-dance number (and armed with that knowledge, you can definitely picture it as such while it plays), and a lowdown nasty blues that is more-than-appropriately-called “Feeling Mean” (think Ray Wylie Hubbard doing Muddy Waters). All in all, Hellfire is one complete Saturday night, pressed up on 12 inches of heavy vinyl, just itchin’ for the needle to drop.
DOWNLOAD: “Feelin’ Mean,” “The Outsider,” “It Ain’t Cheap”