From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
No Justice “America’s Son” (Smith Entertainment)
Red dirt rockers No Justice return to a more country sound on “America’s Son,” a 10-track collection that splits the difference between revisiting familiar favorites and delving into new material.
The Stillwater band’s fourth studio album recently debuted on the Billboard charts, bowing at No. 36 on the Heat Seeker chart and No. 4 on the Heat Seeker-South Central Regional list.
Album opener “Never Gonna Be Enough” quickly proves that the Stillwater band may be retracing its country roots but isn’t completely abandoning the rock sound that charged up its 2010 release “Second Avenue.” Jason Isbell’s stellar slide guitar work, coupled with lead singer Steve Rice’s strong but world-weary vocals, gives the new single a jolt of rock electricity.
The album follows up with “Life’s Too Short,” a raise-your-glass party song that toasts the band’s country leanings as well as its rock tendencies. But the title track, a wistful road anthem, comes down firmly in the country camp, with distinctive Americana overtones added for good measure.
The romantic ballad “Run Away with Me” showcases the butter-melting warmth of Rice’s voice, which matches well with Elizabeth Cook’s lilting croon on the twangy traveling tune “Songs on the Radio.”
Don’t be alarmed if some of the tracks sound familiar. The album features two songs – “Let’s Not Say Goodbye Again” and “Give You a Ring” – that Rice penned with Texas country singer-songwriter Casey Donahew, who included them on his band’s 2011 record “Double-Wide Dream.” Folks who think red dirt and Texas country is all the same might change their minds after comparing the divergent interpretations of the two songs. The Stillwater group brings a distinctly rootsier and less polished sound to its versions.
No Justice also revisits a couple of its popular songs on “American’s Son,” which features an extended and more plaintive reading of its Texas country radio hit “Red Dress.” The song sets up the album’s first single, the raucous come-on “A Shot in the Dark,’ which recently reached the top 10 on the Texas Music Chart.
To close the album, the fan favorite “Don’t Walk Away” gets made over into a pleading piano duet, courtesy the angel-voiced Rebecca Lynn Howard.
No Justice will play an Oklahoma City show Jan. 25 at the Wormy Dog Saloon. For tickets and information, go to www.wormydog.com.