Kyle Nix’s “Lightning on the Mountain and Other Short Stories” Wrangles Wild Energy


While the Turnpike Troubadours remain on indefinite hiatus, firebrand fiddler and songwriter Kyle Nix steps out under his own name with a record full of the same high energy red dirt country that you’ve come to know and love from his primary project. Nix’s solo debut, Lightning on the Mountain and Other Short Stories, showcases Nix’s skills as a songwriting storyteller as well as his ability to wrangle the wild energy of unbridled pickers into a collective aural assault.

By embracing the cinematic, “Intro” paints a picture of wide open western plains before breaking into the steady one-two stomp of Nix’s “Manifesto” reflecting on family war heroes and that fact that “all I do is bow bluegrass and blues, I hope that you like it some.” The title track follows with fiddle lines reminiscent of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and a tale of Carolina moonshine running and murder that wouldn’t be out of place on a Drive-By Truckers record. Nix’s songwriter often touches on imagery that evokes more than the simple line in itself due to a wealth of connection in the line. For example, in “Sweet Delta Rose” references to Oh Susanna, Delta Rose, Satin Sheets, and Gypsies all draw the astute listener into a world where country music’s past exists in the present as, “bring Oklahoma to Lousianne.”

“Prelude: Meet Your Match” prominently introduces electric guitar to the mix over a atmosphere evocative of Encino Morricone’s spaghetti western scores before breaking down into the dark driving murder ballad groove of “Graves”. “Pretty girls will make graves, but a fool will dig his own,” Nix sings before the band explores the sonic outer reaches of the track. “Blues Eyes” follows with a decidedly different tone, a return to the country porch lonesome lament. “What could he do with eyes that blue, the writing was on the wall, but loving and losing sure beats not living at all,” Nix concludes over a bed of pedal steel guitar and a slow bass thump. “Shleby ‘65” opens the engine wide for a race down a highway reminiscent of early rock-n-roll and rockabilly. “Josephine” follows with acoustic guitar, pedal steel, and longing vocal calling out to the songs heroine. “The Wolf at the Door” returns to the grit of an electric guitar and organ over a tale of a father teaching a daughter how and when to shoot to protect herself from dangerous or potentially abusive future suitors when, “the man is gone and the wolf shows his teeth.”

Good times return on “Good Girl Down the Road” as the band rolls along to a slow 1-5 bass thump with a swing, a playful banjo and fiddle solos, and joyous lyrics to match, “I was full of cheap gin and wishful thinking….she’s the good girl down the road.” “If Ruby Ain’t Happy” maintains the buoyant energy with a refrain that recalls the common colloquialism, “if mama ain’t happy, no one is.” “Reprise: Hacia Del Ocaso” closes this collection with the same Morricone influenced cinematic instrumental that opened Nix’s red dirt storybook. Let yourself get lost in Lightning on the Mountain and Other Short Stories and let Nix’s tales told with equal parts fiddle and voice take you away from the worries of the present for an hour.


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