Alt-country outfit Reckless Kelly marked a very special anniversary last week. The Austin, TX-based band marked the 20th anniversary of the release of its debut album Millican Oct. 20. The album was re-issued in a very limited number of copies – only 1,000 copies to be exact – making it a very special release for the band and fans alike. For those who might not have been lucky enough to get their hands on a copy of the album, there is some consolation that they can still get their hands on the band’s most recent album, 2016’s Sunset Motel. Though a little more than a year has passed since the 13-song album was originally released, it is still just as enjoyable today as it was in that release. That is due in part to the record’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The album’s lyrical themes are just as important to note as its musical content. Last but not least of mention is the record’s packaging. It seems surprising, true, but is definitely worth noting. Each element is important in its own right to the album’s overall presentation. All things considered, Sunset Motel proves to be a record that any Reckless Kelly fan will enjoy.
Reckless Kelly’s ninth full-length studio recording Sunset Motel is yet another solid effort from the Austin, TX-based alt-country outfit. Released a little more than three years after its 2013 album Long Night Moon, the album boasts plenty of positives, not the least of which is its collective musical arrangements. The arrangements presented throughout the course of the record’s 51-minute run time are everything that audiences have come to expect from the band throughout the band’s life. From the southern rock arrangements present in ‘Radio,’ ‘Moment in the Sun,’ and ‘Give It Up’ to the more direct country music leanings of ‘Under Lucky Stars,’ ‘Who’s Gonna Be Your Baby Now’ and the album’s title track to the middle ground in ‘One More Last Time,’ — which boasts quite a clear comparison to so many works from the late, great Tom Petty — ‘Volcano’ and ‘How Can You Love Him (You Don’t Even Like Him)’, the arrangements presented throughout this record prove familiar ground for the band without being redundant from its previous works. That ability of the band to present plenty of familiar sounds without being too familiar impresses plenty in itself. It is just one of the elements that makes the album so enjoyable. The album’s lyrical themes are just as important to discuss in examining it as its musical arrangements.
The lyrical themes presented throughout the course of Sunset Motel are just as certain to keep listeners engaged throughout the album’s 51-minute run time as its musical arrangements. That is because they range from the serious to the standard and even in-between from start to finish. The album’s opener sees its subject scratching his head as he asks a woman (probably the object of his affection) why she has fallen for another man in whom she seemingly doesn’t even like. What man hasn’t been such a position at one point or another in life? It is just one of the songs included in this record that takes on the standard subject of relationships. ‘The Champ,’ ‘Who’s Gonna Be Your BabyNow’ and ‘Sad Songs About You’ also take on the topic. It isn’t the only topic that the band tackles in this record. The album’s title track presents a much more serious subject in the matter of addiction. The song doesn’t make clear if that addiction is to drugs, alcohol or both. Regardless, it takes on the issue in moving fashion. ‘Volcano’ also presents its own serious turn as Braun and company take on so many issues that continue to divide the U.S. today. Those issues include climate change, the debate over evolution and conservation. The sense of cynical sarcasm in the song seems to paint a picture of frustration over how those issues have become so divisive. It really is a strong statement from Braun and company here. On a slightly lighter note, the band also takes on the music industry itself in playful fashion in ‘ Radio.’ The song jokes in sarcastic fashion about all the things that acts have to do to get on the radio and make names for themselves. It’s a topic that is not rarely tackled, but also is not addressed too commonly, either. To that end (and the way in which it is addressed here), it is another interesting addition to the album. When it is considered along with the already noted themes and those not noted here, the whole of those themes makes clear why Sunset Motel’s lyrical themes are collectively just as important to note here as the album’s musical arrangements. Its lyrical themes are not the last of its most important elements. The album’s packaging round out its most important elements.
Sunset Motel’s packaging is an important piece of the album’s whole not because of its gatefold presentation, but because of its fun 3-D visuals. The “motel room key” included in the album is not just a room key, but a viewer to find the hidden pictures and messages placed throughout the album’s packaging. There are plenty of those messages and pictures across the album’s “booklet,” which turns out to be a map of sorts. Some of the images and messages spread across the “map” include headshots of the band members hidden on Mt. Rushmore, a giant rattlesnake spread across the country, and even a mirage of sorts used to better illustrate the message presented in Sunset Motel’s title track among much more. It may not seem like much on the surface, but the fun presented in discovering the hidden pictures and messages placed throughout the album makes for its own share of enjoyment for listeners. When that enjoyment is considered along with the enjoyment brought in the album’s musical arrangements and lyrical themes, the whole of those elements makes the album in whole a presentation that every one of Reckless Kelly’s fans will appreciate.
Reckless Kelly’s most recent album Sunset Motel is a presentation that is certain to have no sunset in itself among the band’s fans. It presents plenty to appreciate from start to finish. As already noted, that is due in no small part to some familiar (but not too familiar) sounds in its musical arrangements. The album’s lyrical themes collectively play their own part in the album’s presentation as does the album’s packaging. Each element is important in its own right, as has been noted. All things considered, Sunset Motel proves to be another enjoyable effort for all of Reckless Kelly’s fans. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Sunset Motel is available online now along with all of Reckless Kelly’s latest news and more at:
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