The Divorcees Last of the Free Men

With their second release, you'll be hankerin' to pigeonhole these boys as ass-kickin' roadhouse country with a side of outlaw rock'n'roll, but the young New Brunswick band repel all efforts to corral their sound. Adding a player and upgrading their output with the Hip's recording studio and some Nashville mixing and mastering, these good ol' boys have spent their time wisely, writing smart songs and grafting them to country rock sounds that demonstrate a fluency in old school country, suggesting an upbringing on Lynyrd Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker. Andre McGraw's guest turn on pedal steel helps sharpen the band's focus ("My '83"), softening Alex Madsen's occasionally overwrought vocals. "After the Storm is Gone," with cameos from Angela Desveaux (vocals) and Michael Johnson (piano), reveals a level of maturity not always apparent in the context of their typically vociferous barroom demeanour. Storytelling comes to the forefront with "The Boys" and heartfelt environmental concern is realized with the exceptional "Mining Man." And, despite the misstep of covering AC/DC's "Shoot To Thrill," their sophomore release is another sturdy testament to an act destined to be reckoned with. (Hay Sale Records)