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Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys

Empty House (Bloodshot)

Bar-stool laments from lovable losers have been the staple of hard-edged honky-tonk since long before George Jones drove his riding mower to the liquor store half-cocked. But in the sure hands of a seasoned troubadour like Rex Hobart, the well-trod themes of cheating, drinking and insanity sound fresh -- especially in a dismal age of soft-rock country that spouts cliched sentiments like a get-well card from Dr. Phil. Hobart's advice to the lovelorn thankfully comes from the Bakersfield tradition of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, from a place where keeping your good gal unaware of your side gal is nothing compared to the difficulty of concealing your grief when the side gal finally ups and leaves ("Heartache to Hide"). The Kansas-bred Hobart wraps his mellow baritone around a batch of satisfying weepers that examine everything from redemption ("The Tear I Left Behind") to renovation ("I Don't Like That Mirror") to a haunting title cut that swirls in the mind like a warm glass of whiskey -- straight, no chaser.

 
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