Mandy Marie and the Cool Hand Lukes – $600 Boots
The Missouri-born Mandy Marie Luke is a country music triple threat: singer, songwriter and ace electric guitarist. Her vocal sass will remind you of Wanda Jackson’s rockabilly sides and her picking will remind you of the Buckaroos’ Don Rich, Merle Haggard’s Roy Nichols and current Telecaster-ace, Bill Kirchen. The combination of singing and picking matches up with another Jackson acolyte, Rosie Flores, and the retro honky-tonk rock and swing brings to mind Dee Lannon. Luke’s debut features ten originals and covers of Jimmie Rodgers’ “Mule Skinner Blues,” Kirsty MacCaoll’s “There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis” (Americanized and shortened to “Thrift Shop”), and the Merle Haggard album track “Harold’s Super Service.”
The originals stick to rockabilly and throwback country sounds. Luke sings with a lot of verve, whether telling the story of a 14-year-old runaway’s renewal, detailing the precarious road run of a drug dealer, or suffering the down-and-out dilemma of Jesus or the bottle. She celebrates truckers and tattoos, and wallows on both sides of cheating mates and broken hearts. Luke picks a storm of twang from her Telecaster, and her Indianapolis-based honky-tonk band rocks each tune as if the dance floor just opened for business. Mo Foster’s upright slap bass complements the drumming of Lewis Scott Jones, and guest player Thom Woodard adds some great old-school steel. If you pine for the hardcore honky-tonk and rockabilly sounds of the ‘50s, be sure to check this out.
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