Bill Kirchen’s credentials as a guitarist have been well-established and justly lauded since his stint with Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen (1967-1976). Since then he’s lent his string prowess to a number of performers (notably touring with Nick Lowe around the time of his Impossible Bird album).
Kirchen began recording under his own name in earnest in the ’90s, and has kept a trio intact for a decade. Drummer Jack O’Dell and bassist Johnny Castle continue to lend the proceedings a seamless sense of interplay. The former steps forward to handle the lead vocal on “How Mountain Girls Can Love”, offering a further glimpse of what a rousing and well-rounded live outfit this band is. Assorted guests on steel guitar, piano and a few other instruments add sparkle and color, never overplaying, always supporting the song and meshing with the combo.
As with earlier efforts, there’s a smooth mix of originals and either obscure or surprise covers. In the latter category is the rousing, album-closing take on Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”. Also of note is the rich Bakersfield sound of the truck driving classic “Roll Truck Roll”, a song performed by Red Simpson that was the title track to the first album Kirchen ever owned. With its opening line, “I’m going back to Feather River Canyon,” it’s easy to feel a link with the young boy who first fell under its spell.