From the start of “Take Off This Tattoo” you think you sort of know what you’re getting. Rock-tinged country, with the accent on the rock, but the lyrics are like you’ve stepped into a confessional. “I admit I made some bad choices” it opines, and by the time the fiddle solo has screeched into view you are left with a couple of thoughts.

  1. Christ, this is good
  2. This is the sort of stuff Jon Bon Jovi should be making instead of the shite he is

Oh and by the way, you (and when I say “you” I mean me and my snap judgments) ain’t got a clue what you’re getting. Not the foggiest.

You see, The Bacon Brothers are a bit like Drive-by Truckers in that each song offers a different dynamic. “Losing The Night” comes on like The Eagles in contrast to the opener,  all hazy breeze and woozy harmonies.

The third one on the record, though is full of stax soul. Somewhere between The Blues Brothers and Back To The Future it’s fun and its energetic – you’ll “Put Your Hand Up” because you’ve got no choice.

Basically, this feels like a compilation tape – it just happens to be one album. “Dreams Of The San Joaquin” is country as timeless as Rhinestones but mixed in with Tex Mex, collars of blue and gorgeous harmomies.

You fancy some funky shit? Like John Butler Trio? Sorted, “Old Bronco” has got you covered – getting old never sounded so much fun to be honest with you.

Mind you, even for this record, “Airport Bar” does a bit of a left turn. A disconcerting strings melody, as it surveys a broken relationship. The fiddle is brilliantly weird and the backing vocals only add to it.

Can I be honest with you, Dear reader? I expected this record to be arena rock mixed with country. I expected it to be an easy record to review. There are some songs like that “We Belong” which do have a touch of Bryan Adams going on (and some Springsteen bombast), but mostly, if this got its first real six-string, it wasn’t at the five and dime.

Rather, this is the sound of two brothers who grew up listening to music from all different places and dammit if they aren’t getting it all out here. “Let That Be Enough” is a lovely ballad, while “Ballad Of The Brothers (The Willie Door)” is raucous Bluegrass, inspired by a venue where Willie Nelson played legendary gigs, and this feels like two fans sharing their love for music of all kinds. That’s why its so good – and frankly the whole thing is charming.

That feel extends to the intro to “Freestanding”. This one is a New Orleans Jazz club (I imagine, seeing as I’ve never been to New Orleans and my only time in a Jazz club was to watch Nils Lofgren play), but it’s a soundtrack playing in their heads and its cool.

If it had started relatively conventionally, then it ends so too. “Live With The Lie” is timeless, its straight from the Great American Songbook. The one that The Bacon Brothers have thumbed all their lives.

If you don’t know who they are, I am not going to tell you. Who they are means they can evidently afford some superb session musicians, and some of the top writers have worked on “Ballad Of The Brothers” too, but listen to the closing solo. This is just two blokes that love music – hell, even the cover is a homage to that. Kevin and Michael have never sounded as footloose and fancy free as they do here.

Rating 8.5/10

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