BR5-49: Temporarily Disconnected EP (2003) MP3/Flac
Don’t let the title fool you. On its first release with a new lineup, BR5-49 is connected as strongly as ever with the honky-tonk sound of yesteryear. The three originals and two covers that make up this EP showcase the band’s shift away from the more slick production of their recent recordings and toward a grittier, more historically informed sound.
On the Chuck Mead-penned “Goin’ Down”, a dirty, distorted guitar leads the way through a shuffling lament. Fiddle and pedal steel share the foreground on newcomer Chris Scruggs’ “I’ll Be Yours And You’ll Be Mine”. Donnie Herron’s fiddle is joined by an accordion on an old-fashioned Louisiana stomp, “Cajun Persuasion”. The lo-fi approach adds authenticity to the tunes without making them less accessible.
While the original songs on Temporarily Disconnected showcase the band’s move toward more rustic production, they also seem to take a step away from the trademark humor of previous BR5-49 efforts. Mead seems to have traded in his carnival barker persona for that of a man of constant sorrow.
The band doesn’t keep a straight face for long, however, as two live cover tunes offer a sampling of their well-known wit. An explanation of Onie Wheeler’s unique place in country music history prefaces a hiccup and whine-laden delivery of Wheeler’s tune “Onie’s Bop”, and their version of “Charming Betsy” finds the boys comparing the relative merits of Vaseline, lard and axle grease. The personnel and approach may have changed a bit, but the end result is still unmistakably BR5-49.