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Reckless Kelly - Bulletproof

by Haley Forehand
 Reckless Kelly - Bulletproof

Reckless Kelly’s long-awaited fifth studio album, Bulletproof, set to hits the shelves June 24th  and is loud and proud.  Following suit of the 2006 release Reckless Kelly Was Here, a double disc live recording CD/DVD, Bulletproof delivers and delivers hard. The band, which formed more than 11 years ago in Bend, Oregon eventually moved their base of operation to Austin, TX where they have taken an ever-growing fan base by storm.  Playing shows all over the Lone Star Sate and its surrounding areas, and more recently, the “windy city,” New York, and even Nashville, these five guys have begun what many would call a legacy that began long before they were born.

Bulletproof, recorded at Willie Nelson’s famed Pedernales Studios just outside of Austin on Lake Travis is a collection of ragged road songs, a few ballads and two epic tributes.  The album produced under the band’s new record label Yep Roc Records consists of 14 tracks, all written or co-written by lead singer and guitarist Willy Braun, and boasts guest musicians including Lloyd Maines, Ephraim Owens, Brian Standefer and Micheal Ramos.  The five guys of Reckless Kelly, Willy Braun and brother Cody Braun, David Abeyta, Jay Nazz and Jimmy McFeely have come together to produce what is arguably their most impressive record to date. 

Kicking things off is a rocking road tune, which is already getting a lot of radio time.  “Ragged as the Road” as it is aptly titled, is a culmination of energy, guitars and descriptive lyrics which leaves you feeling the heat of the “black-top gravel” and the glow of the “faded moonlight” and seems to describe the place the band is in now.  A rocking rhythm and vivid imagery make this one of the best tracks on the record.  “ A Guy Like Me” and “Love in her Eye” carry on the revved up vibe of the first track.  The catchy rhythm and edgy feel of “a Guy Like Me” creates the image of a bad boy attitude and a great guitar riff in the middle of “Love in her Eye” make these two potential singles for the record. 

The two most captivating tracks on the record, “American Blood” and “God Forsaken Town” illuminate the reality of the roughest times in this life.  There is no mistaking the message of “American Blood” with lyrics like “Johnny can’t drink cause Johnny ain’t 21/but he’s 18 and he’s pretty handy with a gun/they sent him off to a foreign land, gave him a new pair of boots and 13 grand/and he came back home with American blood on his hands.”  The song has an incredible message and a very Bruce Springsteen kind of power to it.  “God Forsaken Town” co-written by Willy Braun and long-time friend Robert Earl Keen is a tribute to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.  The song has a heart-breaking feel to it, yet shines light on the power that we can find within our depths. “I’ll be goddamned if I’m leaving here before the day I die,” and “we’ve got a sawed off and a red hot 44/so all you looters best come heavy when you’re knocking on my door!” show that imagery of inner strength.  A heart-wrenching chorus alluding to an allegorical “higher ground” and a beautiful trumpet provided by Ephriam Owens make this song amazing, if very hard to listen to. 

Two love songs on the record, “Don’t Say Goodbye,” and “Passin’ Through” were co-written with Micky Braun, brother and lead singer of Micky and the Motorcars.  “Passin’ Through” starts as a ballad, then cranks in a rocking rhythm that has a very “windows down, rolling down the black-top” sort feel to it.  “One False Move,” another tribute to love was co-written with Dustin Welch, son of singer-songwriter Kevin Welch.

The title track for the record, “Bulletproof” is a tribute to 1870s Australian gangster and namesake of the band, Ned “Reckless Kelly.”  It lays stake to the claim that nothing is ever “bulletproof,” but as they say, life goes on. 

Bulletproof shows the guys of Reckless Kelly at their most musically mature and is sure to be a musical library staple.  The guys deliver excellent lyrics, heart-engaging melodies, and as always the signature fiddle, provide by incredible musical talent of Cody Braun.  It is rough and rugged and will leave you listening over and over again. 

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