Forty-something Illinois songwriter Ike Reilly owns a fascinating backstory. He kicked around the Chicago bar-band circuit in the '80s and early '90s before falling out of the music scene and working as a hotel doorman and a gravedigger. He was rediscovered in his late thirties, signed to (and then dropped by) a major label, and responsible for songs such as "They Really Put the Cunt Back Into Country" (in response to Toby Keith-style jingoism). But none of this would really matter if his music sucked and he wasn't a magnetic live performer -- but it doesn't, and he is. Reilly and his band of assassins rip heartily through darkly witty, bluesy roots-rock songs of sin, redemption and grace. These underbelly tales from the road between Losertown and Desperationville call to mind Dylan, Springsteen, Westerberg and Strummer -- and even occasionally get a mite Beckish.
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