Reckless Kelly – American Jackpot/ American Girls
I’m rather partial to the Braun family. There are four brothers who split into two bands. One is Reckless Kelly and the other is Micky & The Motor Cars. The latter’s Long Time Comin’ release was one of 2019’s strongest. Now in 2020 we get a double album from the older siblings – Willy and Cody. The sound is probably more country than rock and the themes they sing are the well used tropes– love, loss, homecoming and family all often involving cinematic sweeping vistas of the USA.
Willy Braun explains that American Jackpot was already recorded when he pulled the band together again to record American Girls. On both albums Willy wanted to talk about everyday American themes and in part the current political climate in the USA. At this point I might flinch but in fairness it has a light touch. “North American Jackpot” starts with a piano and rock introduction before Willy reflects on the changes in the USA over 300 years from the The Mayflower’s arrival (and America embracing newcomers) through to today where he “watches the fading lamplight that once lit the golden door”. Elegant words for his point of view, which goes onto to celebrate his country and what a fine place it is to live. Other more impactful social commentary comes on “Put On Your Brave Face Mary” where Willy laments, in a ballad, about the suicide rate of the military. Anthemic and impactful.
Most of the albums return to more predictable sentimental themes – “Grandpa Was A Jack Of All Trades”, “Goodbye Colorado” and “42” about the number on a baseball jersey. Throughout Cody offering some interesting, near celtic, flourishes on fiddle. These flourishes are never more evident than on “No Dancing In Bristol” from the American Girls album. This song about homesickness is set on a UK tour. Willy manages to insert ‘pint’ and ‘rain’ into the lyrics and I half expected a reference to “bobbies on bicycles, two by two” or a heavy fog in London. The band has released some epic rock over the years and “Mona” is another one for the catalogue. It starts with electric piano before a compelling guitar boogie unfolds.
Reckless Kelly has issued another couple of interesting albums where musicians comfortable in their skins and masters of their instruments craft another consistent album for fans of country, country rock and rock.