The Highballers 'Self-Titled' - Woodshed

A Telecaster toting neo-country band from Washington fronted by vocalists Kendall Jackson and Victoria Patchen. They formed in 2007 and the current line up has put out this their second album of harmony laden, driven catchy country songs.  The ten songs, all written by Jackson, bar one outside song, have a familiarity that makes them immediately likeable. The lead vocals are shared with Patchen - taking lead mic on songs like Lula's Gone a song that fairly rocks with an nice interplay of twang and jangle under Patchen clear and concise vocal. Jackson also has a strong voice that gives meaning to these songs. Producer Don Zientara builds everything up from a solid rhythm section base and adds Sean Lally's vital guitar to give the songs their much appreciated dose of Tele twang. Guests on one song include Bobby Birdsong's pedal steel and Jackson Edwards harmonica. 

King Of The Plains seems to be about an alien encounter while more down to earth is Can't Stop Drinkin' about a man who can't do anything because of his need for a cold one in his hand. Maybe as a result of that the next song is an uptempo song that hopes that things could be like the used to be in I Want You Back. But when that don't work something this is more of a direct action is espoused on I'll Break Something More Than Just Your Heart. Again Patchen delivers an impassioned vocal. Jackson gives the other side of the story with I Need My Ass Kicked another hi-speed bar-room. The 60s styled One Damn Thing has Farfisa organ and Patchen's era specific backing vocals under pinning it's overall feel of a time when country and garage-pop were logical bedfellows - shades of Southern Culture On The Skids.

This band have a retro heart that has been jump started to have it's place for today's audience. They sound like they're having fun and any audience that encounters them will reciprocate. With classic country as your base you can't move too far from the template before it becomes something else entirely. The Highballers don't do that what they do do is to sing and play with a conviction and heart that makes their music something to enjoy. Can't ask for more than that in a lot of cases. They have, as the opening song says Fire and Smoke, well the fire anyway.