Hey nerds! Augh! It’s been so long since Will Ryan released his (almost latest) and greatest CD, and my only excuse for not reviewing it is that we moved and it took longer than expected and it has been in storage. How dare I put it there, but I wanted it safe and not lost in the chaos of moving (it is autographed, you know). So without further ado, I am going to review this, and if you haven’t heard it then too bad because you can’t get any more of them. 😉 I just wished I had reviewed it five months ago when I first got it!!
So, just to give you a little history, Will Ryan’s band, Will Ryan & The Cactus County Cowboys released (that I know of) two albums. The first was Rythm Rides the Range, and the second was The Outlaws are Coming!.
Enter Shona Kennedy. She wins the Get in the Show contest in 2012, sings with her family for Will, and BLAM! We now have The Saguaro Sisters.
Cactus County Cowboys + Saguaro Sisters = Latest and awesome CD.
So here we go. They’ve teamed up to make the CD, Ridin’ The Hollywood Trail. It was an Indiegogo campaign that raised a bunch of money. If you look at the backers, you’ll see some familiar faces, including myself, JD Sutter, Phil Lollar, Regina Whitcomb, and others.
So that’s the history. On to the review.
Track 1: Two Gun Annie From Diablo
I assume this is a callback to Annie Oakley, who was the famous cowgirl sharpshooter. Fictional stories about her adventures were written (which were fun and are what this song is about).
This song is a great album-opener. The harmony!! That’s pretty much why I got the album because I was like man, these guys do the harmonies well.
It’s very light music, in a word. You can hear this song on the Indiegogo campaign site, just to get an idea of the style of music. I listen to all kinds of things, Andy Mineo, The Piano Guys, Crowder, but none of these guys have what the Cactus County Cowboys have. They clarify it later in the album and call it “western skiffle jazz”.
Track 2: Ridin’ the Hollywood Trail
The titular song of the album I find actually kind of comical. Just imagining the invisible orchestra and the paper moon is funny to me. It reminds me of the old John Wayne movies or something like that, since nowadays movies are made with greenscreens etc.
My favorite part in this song is the two notes following the lyrics “And danger’s clearly nigh“. Those two notes with the Saguaro Sisters’ voices are just perfect. My favorite part of the whole song, and I also like it when one of the Sisters switches off with Will and sings that verse the second time.
Following on the heels of those two verses, I actually wasn’t a fan of the fade-out instead of just ending the song. But someone tell me to just shut up because I know nothing about music so maybe I don’t know it, but I actually like it better faded out.
If you got all that then you get lots of points.
Track 3: Mudbug Hotel
I’m prejudiced against the Mudbug Hotel “where the bedbugs merely bite“, because I have experienced bedbugs at camp and I hate them, WHY ARE YOU BRINGING ME TO THIS HOTEL!?!?!?
Putting the bedbugs and all other insects aside, this tune brings in a variety of instruments that make an interesting song. I’m not 100% sure I like it, but I do like that stringy thing that keeps doing the harmony notes in the background. I’m not sure what it is, my guess looking at the band and their instruments would be a ukulele? But I truly have no idea so don’t quote me on that.
Also, this raises the question why people hate accordions so much, because I have liked their use in all of Will’s albums.
Track 4: Potato Pan
OK this song makes me really tempted to pretend I know what they are talking about, but lol no I don’t.
Even in the beginning, they explain what the deal is with this. “Here’s a song that’s called Potato Pan, the lyrics may seem dense. But line by line, to or fro, you’ll find they make about as much sense.” And they continue to make no sense for an entire minute and 33 seconds, and it drives me nuts!!!!!
I love this song, though, the tune is incredibly catchy and it ends awesomely. But seriously, the lyrics are going to drive me nuts because they make enough sense that they drive me nuts.
Track 5: Hollywood’s Gone Cactus County (instrumental)
I really like this, actually, better than the one with the vocals. It’s got a lot of energy and the use of the drums and guitar makes it pretty cool.
:O Whatever that instrument is that does the solo. Trombone? Someone slap the instruments noob, which would be me, I’m going to guess trombone. Anyway, that is fabulous. Love it. Five stars, whatever you want. And the mad guitar skillz are awesome with the drums. (I’m smart enough to know that is a guitar).
Track 6: My Humble Little Home in Holmby Hills
So now we introduce the Katie Sisters, I actually don’t really know who they are, but I like their voices too.
This song starts with a kind of… how to put it… short speech from Will Ryan, and leads into the song. I don’t know how else to put it, but that’s not the right description. At any rate, I like this song. The lyrics have a lot of pep, and bring fun things to the imagination. I like the great big friendly rock line, just the “who always says HELLO!”.
This leads into a short part with lots of piano, umm… I’m going to guess trombone again? Someone please just tell me I have the instruments totally wrong and get it over with. Anyway, lots of energy especially in that piece of the song. The added cheering and party noises make it have a lot of energy.
Track 7: Mickey Rooney Macaroni
This is my least favorite track of the album, for two reasons. 1: I don’t sing about macaroni, 2: I’m not exactly sure what Mickey Rooney has to do with macaroni. But, oh well. The piano and (instrument that I don’t know what it is) sound good with their solos.
Track 8: Ridin’ the Hollywood Trail (instrumental)
So, basically rehash everything I said about track 2 but without lyrics. I like it with the lyrics better. However, now you can hear the instruments that went under the vocals, and I love that fiddle. It’s just not the same without the vocals though, the vocals complete the song.
Track 9: It’s Raining in Hollywood
Ahhhhhhh I love this song so much. It’s a contestant for number 1, because every time I listen to it, I think I like it the best, and then I’ll listen to track 1 and think I like it the best, track 2 I’ll decide is better, then track 5 will steal first place. So I’m listening to this at the moment so we’ll just say it’s number 1 in the album.
That aside, the objective is the song’s lyrics is that there’s some little drops of rain, and everyone freaks out. I love the premise, especially since I live where we get lots of rain.
The musical side of things is so great. The little “raindrops” from the instrument (Ok……. guitar?) makes the song. It just does. If this song were missing any of the single pieces, it wouldn’t be the same. Love it so much.
Track 10: Hollywood’s Gone Cactus County
I like this one, but I think it could have been better, just for the following reason. Parts of the lyrics were a little smashed in there, and didn’t flow as well as the other songs. Especially the line “Hollywood’s gone Cactus County, it’s a whole new rep. Now cowboy skiffle’s the official step.” Will had to say “cowboy skiffle” pretty darn fast in order to stay on beat, which just kind of makes it not flow as well.
However, the lyrics add a lot of energy that the instrumental didn’t have, however, the smashed rhymes are a little distracting. So, it’s a toss-up between the instrumental and the lyrical version. I personally still think I like the lyric version better.
Another thing I wonder about this song is when Will says “The studios all say to Shona, Karona, and Katriona, ‘Hey, won’t you sign our dotted line?’ but the gals just shoo em’ all away!” I have to wonder why, if it has to do with their Christian convictions or what Will makes it sound like, that they are just too cool. That’s pure speculation, I have no idea. Just something I wonder about. Actually, duh, yeah they have blinding awesomeness and it shoots out every time they harmonize perfectly. I love this album!!!
So there we go, a review of an album you probably won’t ever be hearing. Will ought to get them up on Amazon or something because I bet people would buy more. It’s a great album that ought to be heard more often.
Lyrics: 8/10 (Lost points because bedbugs ate them)
All other awesomeness that I am biased towards: 10/10
Final rating: 9/10
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