[11 March 2009]
In the world of alt. country songwriters, Willie Breeding is as genuine an article as they come. Cheap Vodka Rain is a collection of eleven songs with enough twang to produce a few tears in a few people’s beers yet Breeding and his band never skimp on the rock and roll. Breeding’s outstanding songcraft is on display from start to finish, with nary a weak cut in the bunch.
Cheap Vodka Rain kicks off with “White Dress”; drenched in shimmering steel guitar and stacked harmonies, the song gets its form from a well-constructed chord progression and its spirit from a great melody, the first of many. Arguably, the album’s most tuneful moments come in the ballad “With Your Costume On”, on which Breeding’s confident yet world-weary voice paints a vivid picture of longing and heartache. Other stellar cuts include the first-rate ballad “Bruises” which could make a home both on country radio and an indie kid’s iPod. The track features some great guitar outros from producer/Marah leader Dave Bielanko whose presence is felt but never overshadows Breeding’s considerable talent.
Also worth mentioning are the Beatles-gone-country shuffle of “Grey Skies” and the organ-laced “Cold When We Met”. While these tracks distinguish themselves a bit from the pack, the album is a consistent triumph for Breeding and an eye-opener for the rest of us.