Earl C. Whitehead & The Grievous Angels – Angels & Inbreds
Earl C. Whitehead & the Grievous Angels have a problem. They’re one band performing as two, playing different styles of music. On their seven- song debut CD, the fellas try to explore both sides of their musical persona: the Texas-style C&W-rock of the Grievous Angels, and the bluegrassy Ned Beatty & the Inbreds. The outcome produces mixed results.
The songs falling in the C&W corner shouldn’t be considered classics, but they do have all the essentials for inclusion in your honky-tonk collection: pedal steel aplenty from music whiz Jon Rauhouse, a boot-scootin’ rhythm section of Jesse Navarro and Mickey Ferrell, and some wicked harp courtesy of longtime Tempe musician Frank Mackey — all supporting singer Russ Sepulveda and lead guitarist Dan Henzerling through themes of boozing and infidelity in songs such as “Wine Women & Wrong”, “Going Once, Going Twice”, “Where Sinners Go”, and “Guilty Hand”.
The bluegrass portion of the album fares much worse. Scattered about, these songs are neither particularly catchy nor feature strong pickin’, leaving the listener to wonder if the songs truly qualify as bluegrass. Only the traditional “I Am a Pilgrim” works under the circumstances. The tale of the Arizona high country in “Under the Lights” is interesting; perhaps it would work better in another style.
The Grievous Angels are a mighty fine band live, but it might be time to put Ned & the Inbreds to bed, because living a double life is a draining process.