From his obscure yet undeniably classic 1986 debut Feeling the Elephant forward, Kentucky-born and Nashville-based Bill Lloyd has developed a small but knowing rep among devotees of smart, rocking pop craftsmanship on a worldwide scale. Unfortunately, intelligently rendered power pop has historically failed to make for Top 40 gold since the Beatles supernova’d—just ask Tommy Keene, Adam Schmitt or Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey. Lucky for Lloyd, then, that his hooking up with Radney Foster was a successful proposition in the country/pop scene of the late ‘80s.
On its surface, this—the duo’s first effort since splitting in 1990—won’t upset the Slick Pop With Southern Accents apple cart that constitutes radio-friendly country music these days. Yet, even as the music and Foster’s trusty vocal twang reinforce the necessary tropes, it’s Lloyd’s affinity for arranging Rickenbacker-fueled melodies around tight, Everly Brothers-styled harmonies that ultimately sell these songs. A nicely nuanced balance is heartily achieved of uptempo tracks—like the title cut and “Lucky Number” (co-written by Cheap Trick’s Tom Petersson, who also plays bass throughout)—with sawdust-scooting slowies like “If It Hadn’t Been for You”. Also, lend an ear to “Picasso’s Mandolin”, Foster and Lloyd’s collaboration with Guy Clark which also recalls the worthy portfolio of T-Bone Burnett (especially his early, funny ones).