Ingredient list to create an album that straddles roots-rock, country-rock, and alt-country:
1. Roads. Lonely and wandering highways are best, but freeways and dark city streets will do in a pinch. Interstates are out, as are tree-lined cul-de-sacs. Dust is always good.
2. Alcohol. Beer and bourbon are ideal, French wine is to be avoided at all costs.
3. Guys named Johnny or Billy. Tommy will do if Johnny and Billy are busy working on other albums.
4. A wild woman with a cheatin' heart. It's best if she's involved with your best friend, a drunk at the bar, or your best friend who's drunk at the bar.
5. A good woman with a golden heart. She must possess angelic qualities, and she's never found real love.
6. Untamed men and/or bad boys who do any combination of the following: run away, steal away, break away, drift away, and occasionally devote themselves wholly to the woman in #5. Being as free as a bird is a definite asset, provided this bird can change. At least for a while.
7. A train. Train tracks will suffice, as long as you're on the wrong side of them.
8. A war. In lieu of a war, a fight will do.
9. A bar. Without this, #2 and #4 are much more difficult to achieve, and Nos. 5 and 6 are virtually impossible since all true love begins in bars.
10. Night. Apparently, when the sun is shining, nobody ever gets their heart broken, travels on a lonely road, meets an angelic woman, or gets drunk.
If I didn't know these rules, Bulletproof would be pretty good. The band is solid, the songs are decent, and there's a sense of joy that pervades even the darker moments.
Unfortunately, these rules have been around for decades, and I've heard Bulletproof countless times before. I heard it when The Georgia Satellites recorded it, and when the Gear Daddies recorded it, and when Lone Justice recorded it, and when John Mellencamp (née Cougar) recorded it, and when Steve Earle recorded it, and when Uncle Tupelo recorded it, and... yikes, that was just before 1991.
Bulletproof is fine if you've heard all the great albums in this genre, and all the really good ones, and you still can't get enough. Otherwise, skip it.
This cover makes me feel cheated. It has a dude in what appears to be an iron mask, holding two revolvers, surrounded by the caption "DEATH DEFYING SONGS FOR LOOTERS AND THIEVES. FEARLESS & ACTION PACKED." Talk about misleading. Nowhere does the cover say "GENERIC SONGS WITH GENERIC LYRICS PERFORMED IN AN ADEQUATE MANNER." It's a good package though, with lyrics and photos and credits and lots of drawings of the dude in the iron mask... which actually just makes me wish the music lived up to the promises on the cover.
Listen if you like: Any of the artists above. Fans of country guys like Tim McGraw or Dwight Yoakum might like Reckless Kelly's songs, and fans of the Dixie Chicks might like Reckless Kelly's politics. (If you want songs that tell down-on-your-luck stories in a much more original manner, check out their label-mates Marah.)
If it were food, it'd be: Cold beer late at night served by a veteran named Johnny in a bar on a lonely road where you meet an angelic woman from the wrong side of the tracks who just might tame your wild streak and mend the heart that your cheatin' woman broke.