On the highlights here, Trickey makes his own deathly country sound. But the rest of the record sounds like a language he's become fluent in. He can speak it, well, but it's not his.
Ben Trickey's songs are about as dark as country songs get. There's a chasm of space between his bellowing voice and the deep rumble of his guitar, and songs like "The Day That We Died", "Mean 'Ole World", and "Whiskey Soaked" sound like they seep out of the faux-wood walls of some depressive, half-empty dive bar. His voice is, in other words, a melancholy but often convincing one. At his best, he taps into all those lonesome cowboys -- Prine, Van Zandt, even contemporaries like Jason Molina -- and the spare instrumentation serves him well. But there are other moments, "Gospel Song", for example, that feel less like part of a musical lineage and more like something we've just heard before. This bleak kind of country music is clearly something Ben Trickey has grown up with, and on the highlights of Come On Hold On he soundly makes his own mark. However, the rest of the record sounds more like a language Trickey has become fluent in. He can speak it well, but it's not his native tongue. Not yet. There's plenty here to suggest that, given time, Ben Trickey will stand firmly on his own beer-soaked ground.