Jim Wurster & the Atomic Cowboys

Lantana Sunrise

The twang-filled guitar notes opening Lantana Sunrise offer a reminder of the days when South Florida roots music had little to do with complex polyrhythms, driving percussion, or so much as a splish-splash of the Caribbean. The grooves laid down by Jim Wurster's outfit are built for comfort, not speed, and as the tasty licks played by pedal steelist Bob Wlos prove, there's little in the way of a broken heart or a weary spirit that a taste of the Cowboys' high lonesome sound can't soothe. Synthless but sensible, the Cowboys may have one boot in bluegrass (picking fluttery acoustic-guitar runs) and the other in Grand Ole Opry-steeped but amped-up rock (think Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds), but it's pure country, a child of hillbilly, and it has a hold on Wurster. His drawl keeps the group reined in, tied to Nashville tradition, even when Fred Neil's airy melancholia in "Everybody's Talkin'" gets stamped on by a crunching two-step shuffle and some extra evocation of resignation. These are horseless cowboys, makers of driving music, not drovers of overproduced mishmash. Old-fashioned can be better than fashionable.


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