Album Review: Dixie Lullabies by The Kentucky Headhunters
Very Good, Based on 3 Critics
Slant Magazine - 70 Based on rating 3.5/5
The Kentucky Headhunters kick off their 12th album, Dixie Lullabies, with something of a mission statement: A dual lead vocal between Richard Young and Doug Phelps cuts through a blustery Southern-rock riff (“It’s time to get our rocks off, mama/And swing from the chandelier/Let’s all get our mojo workin’/Get our ass in gear”) before the song explodes into an even heavier, harder-rocking bar anthem. The band may have been playing together in one form or another since the late ‘60s, but they sound downright youthful and ready to rock from the very first bars of “Dixie Lullaby. ” The timing of the Kentucky Headhunters’ first album of new material since 2003 is interesting.
Originally consisting of the brothers Ricky Lee (vocals) and Doug (bass) Phelps, and Richard (rhythm guitar) and Fred (drums) Young, plus the Youngs' cousin Greg Martin (lead guitar), the Kentucky HeadHunters had been playing together for over 20 years before they broke through nationally in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, particularly in the country market, selling millions of records and earning several CMA awards. That career momentum was stopped by the departure of the Phelps brothers after two albums in 1992 (Doug returned in 1996), and by then another two decades had passed. But the remaining quartet is still at it, and Dixie Lullabies, their 12th album, is their first studio recording of new original material since 2003.
A colorful collection of guitar tones, the Kentucky Headhunters’ latest album ranges from the strawberry-bright lead lines of “Boone’s Farm Boogie” to steely black-and-blue riffs in the monstrous “Little Miss Blues Breaker”, and ends with the golden haze of “Recollection Blues”. For studio album number eight, the Southern rock longhairs are on some serious Roy G. Biv shit.