[9 January 2014]
In his scathing report on the 1970 Kentucky Derby, Hunter S. Thompson described the “mask of the whiskey gentry—a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis.” Taking their name from that phrase, the Whiskey Gentry are similar to their Derby-attending brethren only in the combination of booze and failed dreams. More than most bands, this group knows exactly who they are and has little if any pretensions to work around.
Not so far removed from 2011’s Please Make Welcome, Holly Grove finds them settling into a solid blend of bluegrass and honky-tonk. Highlights include the blistering “One Night in New York”, the murder/revenge ballad “Colly Davis”, and the affecting missing-child saga “Holly Grove”. The one big question mark is the hidden track at the end, a strange but effective cover of “A Whiter Shade of Pale”—but it’s the only suggestion of any identity crisis here.