Release Info: Junior Brown: Mixed Bag (2001)
The quirky country and roots rocker with the self-fashioned "Big Red" double-necked steel guitar always seems like he's got his tongue in his cheek, whether he's doing a travelogue tale by Jerry Hubbard ("Guitar Man") or a hilarious spy romance fable ("Cagey Bea"). Brown and his extreme tenor have their sweeter, romantic side in full bloom here as well ("Our First Bluebonnet Spring"), and it's clear he has a penchant for classic Southern sounds like the ragtime tune "Riverboat Shuffle." He complements a mix of fast-paced and gently laconic originals with a folksy reading of a tune written by his idol, Ernest Tubb ("Kansas City Blues"). The listener might be so riveted by Brown's voice, attitude, and lyrical dramas that he or she might miss another of the album's consistent joys -- his potent electric guitar jamming, used well as harmony and in solo spots.