Blackie and the Rodeo Kings Bark

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings Bark
It doesn’t happen often in music, but sometimes collaborations get better results than what the individuals usually accomplish on their own. That’s definitely been the case with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, the collective consisting of Tom Wilson, Stephen Fearing and Colin Linden. Now on their third release, it’s clear that there’s a special magic among these three singer/songwriters, as each seemingly pushes the others to greater heights. The glue is Linden who, coming off his fine work on the various O Brother Where Art Thou projects, is really coming into his own as a producer and arranger. Possibly because of this, his bluesy stamp is even more evident on Bark than the previous Rodeo Kings albums, and it helps bring out Wilson’s latent blues tendencies, always the mark of his best songs. But the trio continues to show a lot of versatility as well, with Linden’s ballad "Lock All The Doors” resembling an unspoken tribute to the Band’s Rick Danko, and Fearing’s touching "Born To Be A Traveler.” There’s also plenty of balls-out rock, as on Wilson’s probably all-too-true "Had Enough Of You Today,” and Linden’s "Jackie Washington,” a tribute to the Hamilton legend. Add to that a couple of nice covers of their original inspiration Willie P. Bennett, along with Bruce Cockburn, and Bark is a thoroughly satisfying listen. Best of all, it’s proof that a conscious emphasis on variety isn’t always to the detriment of an album. (True North)