Jim Mitchell – Repeat Offender
When country artists inject rock into their rootsy melodies it can be magical. Rocky Burnette did it with “Tired of Toein’ The Line,” Eddie Rabbit with “Drivin’ My Life Away” & George Strait with his 2 “Heartland,” tunes. Jim Mitchell has an authentic country tonality to his voice but both “Why You Rockin’ On Me?” & “Running The Gauntlet” are invariably good rockers. The music requires a certain amount of attitude, mood & aggression. Mitchell has it.
While other tunes are more formulaic that’s not necessarily a bad thing since the audience is also a follower of formulas in both rock & country music. The benefit of Jim Mitchell is simple — his band plays with appeal, they’re well-fortified & with a twist of outlaw. Not an imitation but a rejuvenation of a country tradition that’s fast evaporating since country (we won’t mention names) is really becoming sugary pop music. Mitchell is wrangling the Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings & Merle Haggard influences (even more than Willie Nelson who has tendencies toward easy listening & schlock).
There are 10 charges levied on Repeat Offender (Drops Nov 17–Independent/37:00) produced by Jim Mitchell & the Repeat Offenders. While there are a few novelties on the set – “Just Like Ole Hank,” does come off as sweetly entertaining. Songs like this can be favorites at hoe-downs, barn dances & rodeos. It’s a welcome tradition. You can always go to the dentist the next day. The playing is always sharp & incisive.
The typical continues with pleasing tunes & the duet with Laura Fiocco while corny in a Nancy Sinatra-Lee Hazelwood way is appeasing. Laura’s a dynamo. It has a little Tex-Mex retro instrumentation & the vocalizing is attractive. “No Part of Nothing,” is superbly arranged too – a standout.
Jim tries to keep that Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon & Kristofferson fuel ready to burn. The band & arrangements do have fuel. Some tunes are mindful of so many past country rockers that stretch tradition as best as possible without cliches & keep past masters alive through new environments of melody.
Mitchell makes it work & it smokes (Dylan’s “Seven Days”) & it’s as entertaining as the late Boxcar Willie did. Lots to like here.
Highlights – “Why You Rockin’ On Me?” “Running The Gauntlet,” “Just Like Ole Hank,” “No Part of Nothing,” “Hillbilly (with a R&R Heart),” “Honky Tonk Angels (& Sad Old Songs)” & “Seven Days.”
Musicians – Jim (vocal/electric & acoustic guitars/piano), Ray Roller (lead electric & acoustic guitars/mandolin/vocals), Jack Stanton (pedal steel guitar/dobro/vocals), Troy McAllister & Tony Foica (bass guitars) & Steve Campbell (drums/tambourine/vibroslap) with Tom Reock (piano/B3 organ), Rich Kurtz (cello), Joe Deluca (piano/B3 organ), Ron Hall, Nancy Atkinson Keller (bgv) & Laura Fiocco (vocal duet).
Color image courtesy of web photo gallery. B&W image courtesy of the CD insert/Emerald Maple Photos. CD @ https://jimmitchellmusic.com/