You have to demonstrate superhero powers with the slide guitar or keyboard, or be eccentric enough that folks will mistake you for an original, or actually be cunning or lucky enough to have stumbled onto an authentically new take on those Jack Daniel-soaked nights on the road with a cheating woman, a lonely heart, and a pickup with a bad radiator.
Rob Baird & the Whiskey Reunion are five good-looking, perfectly capable young musicians who met at TCU and cut their teeth as a house cover band at The Aardvark. But they can’t quite manage to get a fire started on their self-released debut Past Tomorrow.
Lead singer and co-songwriter Rob Baird has a cool, cow-punk growl to his voice, but it’s applied to original compositions that have very little freshness or ingenuity about them. The lineup is rounded out by John Hallman on driving percussion, plus the brothers Christensen — Kent, Mikey, and Kevin— on bass, lead guitar, and rhythm guitar, respectively.
The most interesting thing about “Long Shot Gamble” is that the title is kinda redundant. The main character is just another elusive woman who’s “a traveling gypsy / Searching to be found.” “Hey, Lady” is a genial ode to an ex-girlfriend who used to carry the singer “through the night.” Arguably the hardest rocker is “Just Carrying On,” which is about how much fun it is to hang out and drink with your friends on the front porch.
The callowness of the tunes is what makes them simultaneously charming and a tad superficial. They lack enough sufficient storytelling detail to distinguish their well-worn subject matter. What Past Tomorrow does show is that these twentysomething dudes have the basic chops to take us to thrilling or at least unexpected places across the vast terra firma of the guitar-and-drum-driven country sound. Time is certainly on their side. Let’s hope the muses are, too.