The 7th studio effort, Nothing Shines Like Neon, from Texas top-dogs Randy Rogers Band again deftly displays why they are still the most relevant band in the Texas/Red Dirt scene. Unlike many bands, RRB has been able to develop and retain a signature sound while always sounding contemporary. Some bands sounds become dated, that hasn’t happened to RRB in the slightest. You hear a Randy Rogers Band track and you know immediately who it is. This collection is produced by Nashville heavyweight Buddy Cannon and his flourishes allow the individual band members to further display their unique creative abilities.
Album opener, “San Antone”, was written by monster songwriter Keith Gattis. It is the first Texas-centric song Randy Rogers Band has recorded, and the wait is well worth it. The theme of being on the road as a musician and longing for home in the Lone Star state isn’t new, but this tune is fresh. The fact that Randy’s aching vocals sell each word make it that much cooler. “Rain and the Radio” sounds like the band listened to a lot of Delbert McClinton and Ronnie Millsap just prior to Cannon pressing record. The ethereal Alison Kraus drops in with her compadre Dan Tyminski for backing vocals on the de facto Kent Finlay tribute “Look Out Yonder”.
The spectre of Finlay looms over this entire record in a loving, winking way. The title comes from a lyric of his; and Randy even includes a touchingly heartfelt dedication to the man who started it all for him in the liner notes. The last song Randy ever played for his mentor Kent was “Actin’ Crazy”. Co-writer Jamey Johnson joins Rogers to duet on this country thumper. Legendary wildman Jerry Jeff Walker stops by for a run through the Bobby Rambo classic “Takin’ It As It Comes”, introducing a whole new generation to the greatness of the gonzo 70’s sound.
Nothing Shines Like Neon features a staunchly country vibe more akin to the Hold My Beer Vol. 1 record as opposed to Rollercoaster. The fact that some Americana rock wannabe kids have grown into a salty, versatile solid country outfit is not to be diminished. This album shows depth, grace, intelligence, emotion, musicality and diversity. The songwriting, both the ones Rogers has a hand in penning and the covers, evoke a comfortableness in their skin that the band didn’t necessarily acknowledge before. That agreeable nature of having been to the major label mountaintop and coming down the other side unscathed has provided the foundation for a fantastic album. The Randy Rogers Band is still at the top of their game and is still the best country band in the land. Now they have a substantial country record to squeeze into their catalog and back all that up.