R.I.D.E.

Studio Album by released in 2005

R.I.D.E. review

Razor-edged and ruggedly rowdy, Trick Pony's music is beholden to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams Jr. and more recently Gretchen Wilson. Save for a couple of ballads, R.I.D.E. finds this trio kicking and rocking all the way through with the three of them trading the lead vocals with Heidi Newfield Johnson handling the lion's share. Singing with a bluesy edge that recalls an amalgam of Tanya Tucker's and Lorrie Morgan's vocals, Newfield Johnson is a dynamic presence on the disc. It's been a long wait for R.I.D.E., one that seemed like it could take forever. The first single, The Bride, failed to catch on; ironically, it was a remake (It's a Heartache) that launched them back into the Top 20. Why is that ironic? Because as Trick Pony fans know, these guys can sing and write and play with the best of them, forging their own original way by keeping it honky-tonk and hardcore country.

One thing about this album is that there are more cover tunes; aside from It's a Heartache, they also do songs penned by Los Lonely Boys, Jeffery Steele, Sherrie Austin, and other notable Nashville songwriters. There're also plenty of guests: Tracy Byrd, Joe Diffie, Mel Tillis, Tanya Tucker, and Darryl Worley add harmonies to the opening number Ain't Wastin' Good Whiskey; Darius Rucker duets on Sad City; George Jones has cameo appearances throughout the album; and Kris Kristofferson gives an emotional delivery of a recitation by Heidi Newfield Johnson on Maryann's Song, a tune written in memorial of her mother. Elsewhere on the album, it's honky-tonk and more honky-tonk, with a ballad thrown in here and there for good measure. There's humor; there's heartbreak; there's wistful wanderlust; there're rich hillbillies, lots of whiskey, and even a little Spanish.

Trick Pony are a quintessential Southern bar band, nominally country but just as comfortable with rock-n-roll and blues. Heidi Newfield Johnson has a sexy, throaty growl that adds grit even to the slower songs and she's complimented by Keith Burns' clean swagger, and the combination of two lead vocalists helps give R.I.D.E. a welcome sense of variety. This album is Trick Pony at their best. All three singers are the best performers country has to offer, and R.I.D.E. perfectly captures their modern take on traditional honky-tonk music. Overall, R.I.D.E. does exemplify some of Nashville's best songs written with some carefully crafted lyrics. And Trick Pony has never sounded more upbeat. The letters in the title of R.I.D.E., stand for "Rebellious Individuals Delivering Entertainment," an appropriate acronym for this dynamic, charismatic, unconventional and over-the-top energetic trio.