11 Songs, 49 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Joe Ely has released some brilliant albums over the past 30 years, both as a solo artist and as part of the Flatlanders with fellow Texans Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Happy Songs from Rattlesnake Gulch is classic Ely — sharp, character-focused songwriting, vivid stories, and great hooks that blend country, blues, and Texas twang, as in the tough honky tonk swagger of “Sue Me Sue,” the accordion-driven “Little Blossom,” and the terrific “Up a Tree,” with its crisp mariachi horns. But whether these are “happy songs” is open to interpretation. To the gamblers, hustlers, and “hard luck saints” that populate Rattlesnake Gulch, happy is a relative term, and Ely is skilled at bringing desperate characters, and their predicaments, alive. The 10 songs written by Ely are consistently good, particularly “So You Wanna Be Rich,” which features a soulful horn section, “Baby Needs A New Pair of Shoes,” a tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and the slow burning “July Blues.” There’s also an R&B-styled cover of Butch Hancock’s “Firewater” that fits in perfectly with the rest of the material. Ely’s singing is ragged and rich, and powerhouse band behind him provides plenty of punch in all the right places. Overall, a solid slice of American roots music.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Joe Ely has released some brilliant albums over the past 30 years, both as a solo artist and as part of the Flatlanders with fellow Texans Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Happy Songs from Rattlesnake Gulch is classic Ely — sharp, character-focused songwriting, vivid stories, and great hooks that blend country, blues, and Texas twang, as in the tough honky tonk swagger of “Sue Me Sue,” the accordion-driven “Little Blossom,” and the terrific “Up a Tree,” with its crisp mariachi horns. But whether these are “happy songs” is open to interpretation. To the gamblers, hustlers, and “hard luck saints” that populate Rattlesnake Gulch, happy is a relative term, and Ely is skilled at bringing desperate characters, and their predicaments, alive. The 10 songs written by Ely are consistently good, particularly “So You Wanna Be Rich,” which features a soulful horn section, “Baby Needs A New Pair of Shoes,” a tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and the slow burning “July Blues.” There’s also an R&B-styled cover of Butch Hancock’s “Firewater” that fits in perfectly with the rest of the material. Ely’s singing is ragged and rich, and powerhouse band behind him provides plenty of punch in all the right places. Overall, a solid slice of American roots music.

TITLE TIME

More By Joe Ely

You May Also Like