Willie Heath Neal and the Fabulous Bandits – South Americana

Like his outlaw country heroes, Willie Heath Neal normally has more than one thing on his mind. The familiar pairings of God and the Devil, Willie and Waylon, stems and seeds, and whiskey and rye inform his songs, whether he’s performing with Kira Annalise as The Waymores or in the studio with fellow country purists.

For his latest recording project, Neal teamed with Brazilian country-rockers the Fabulous Bandits for the five-song EP South Americana. Don’t let the jokey title fool you because this is some seriously genuine country music.

Neal and the band channel Merle Haggard for the tough yet tender “Like I Do Right Now.” It’s a lyrical gem about a loser whose name might as well be mud in the town he can’t escape. The nameless protagonist is the sort of depressingly relatable character that keeps the classics from ever going out of style.

Elsewhere on the EP, Neal and friends rock the roadhouse with “Whiskey, Waylon and Weed,” weigh the tolls and triumphs of the road on “With Me Tonight” and “Ease the Pain,” and confront eternal matters with “The Devil Caught Me Napping.” It’s a nice variety of old-school country sounds and song topics that suit Neal’s rocking interpretations of outlaw shit.

The only complaint applies to a lot of EPs and 7-inches. It’s a shame there aren’t five more songs to whet everyone’s appetite for whiskey-drenched confessionals.

Willie Heath Neal and the Fabulous Bandits
South Americana
[Chicken Ranch]