On the road again
Last year, Phosphorescent braintrust Matthew Houck released a tribute to Willie Nelson featuring eleven well-chosen covers that avoided obvious hits and sentiments. He and his honkytonk band have obviously learned from that endeavor: The songs on their gorgeously sadsack follow-up Here’s to Taking It Easy evoke lost days and lonely nights with keen observations and road-weary melodies.
“Baby, all these cities, ain’t they all startin’ to look all the same?” Houck laments on the rip-roaring opener “It’s Hard to Be Humble (When You’re from Alabama),” as the horn section roars ahead with trucker’s speed and the pedal steel somehow evokes both Junior Brown and My Bloody Valentine. All of Houck’s southern eccentricities remain gloriously intact, from his eloquently hangdog vocals to his minimalist songwriting on “Hej, Me I’m Light.” Best of all is “The Mermaid Parade,” an ode to a bicoastal break-up that’ll have you shedding a tear in your PBR.