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REVIEW
The Band of Heathens - The Band of Heathens

by Keith Howerton
The Band of Heathens

The much anticipated and long awaited first studio record from The Band of Heathens is here. The self-titled project is the follow-up to the band’s first two live record releases and the DVD release earlier this year.

To be sure, the first venture of Texas’ best band into the studio was well worth the wait. Produced by master ear and songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, with the aid of his good friend Gurf Morlix on the final master switches, and engineered by Pat Manske, The Band of Heathens is the culmination of a team effort that, combined with a great band and great songs, creates a work of magic.

The CD captures the soul of what The Heathens are as a roots and soul-driven band that can deliver four or five variations of every song they play. The CD is a combination of the styles of the three frontman-singer-songwriter personalities of Colin Brooks, Gordy Quist, and Ed Jurdi, all backed up by the tight rhythm section of John Chipman and Seth Whitney. Hubbard and Morlix play on the record as well.

Brooks, Quist, and Jurdi are the soul of the band with separate styles that meld to create the Heathens' wonderful blend of musical stew. All singers, all songwriters, and all great guitarists and players, the nexus of these three masters makes The Heathens a force of nature that will not be contained. All the songs on the record were written or co-written by the three with Adam Carroll credited with Quist for the poetry of "Maple Tears." Most bands are lucky to have one good songwriter in the group and super lucky to have two. This band has three poets who can deliver at the top of anyone’s lyrical game. They all three are songwriting treasures.

Check out some of the songs
Maple Tears
Heart On My Sleeve
Nine Steps Down

The Band of Heathens is a CD that may very well be the best Americana record of 2008. While many of the songs on the CD have been live favorites for some time, the studio versions are a welcome polish to the shine that has become The Band of Heathens live experience. The songs are softer with clear and understandable lyrics and all the production value that should come with a studio record. However, it is not over-produced or slick. It is still a rootsy record that delivers good music like a studio record should, leaving the listener with the desire to see the live performances of the studio mixed tunes. All the tunes are superbly delivered to the ears and to mention any one would slight the others. All eleven are excellent renditions.

Adding to Hubbard's and Morlix's extra musicianship on the CD are Patty Griffin with harmony vocals on three of the tracks, and Stephen Bruton with mandolin on three songs.

The Band of Heathens has been compared to “The Band," “The Eagles," and a few other great bands. Comparisons aside “The Heathens” are just themselves and that is better than good enough. The Band of Heathens self-titled studio project is one of the best Americana records ever made. It will not be long before Americana fans from around the world know about The Band of Heathens, and that is a good thing.

A great record and a must have. Get this one ... now!!!

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