The group is Dickinson and Kirk Smithhart on guitars, Daniel Robert Coburn on vocals, and Doc Samba on bass. And with Zebra Ranch, they’ve made a record with tons of Southernrock attitude. That’s obvious from the start with “Raise Your Right Hand.” It’s a stomping rocker with big, funky chords and loud guitars that grow into a cacophony of sounds. Before it ends, you realize this is going to be one fun guitar roller coaster. It continues with “Chalk It Up,” a punchy rocker that starts loud, then quiets in the middle with a ﬁne solo that evolves into a dual lead. After that is a big Southern-rock solo that could only come from a Les Paul.
Those elements are part of every song here. “Where You Belong” has unexpected guitar changes and a melodic lead. Cuts like “My Baby Don’t Know” are funky, with loud slide darting in and out. “Hill Country” is an electric county blues with a deep, low sound that highlights slide again, while “Second Street” opens with Allman-esque twin guitars. And the title cut is an instrumental with a dreamy side.
It’s tough not to love this record. In a time when plain-old guitar rock is on the wane, there’s irony in the fact that traditional-sounding bands like Hill Country Revue are a breath of fresh air.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s May ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.