Joe Ross, Sun209: The Americana Music Journal
Exceptional musicianship & poignant country righteousness
From the opening riff of “Don’t Nothin’ Take My Breath” to closer “Gone” ten tracks later, LiveWire has created an exciting breakout debut album with a tight contemporary country performance highlighted by radio-friendly production, tasteful instrumental licks and yearning vocals. Getting their start about ten years ago at fraternal lodges and clubs in southwestern Missouri and northeastern Oklahoma, the band then took their music on the road nationwide for six years until members decided they needed some time to rest and focus. Reforming with renewed energy, passion and maturity, LiveWire is now developing a signature sound that is taking them to a higher level. Recent years find LiveWire opening for top country artists, appearing as finalists in the 2009 Colgate Country Showdown, releasing a self-titled EP in 2011, signing with Nashville-based Way Out West Records, producing a single and video (“Miracle of the Human Spirit”) to benefit Joplin, Mo. after being devastated by a tornado in 2011, and obtaining widespread radio airplay in the U.S and Europe.
LiveWire features Bobby DeGonia (guitars), Andy Eutsler (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Adam Hagerman (drums), Cory Shultz (fiddle), Danny Bell (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Landon Rolfe (bass). Let’s see if these six guys have what it takes to keep digging for top tier commercial success in the highly-competitive market. On “Livin’” I hear exceptional musicianship with tight harmonies, considerable chops, poignant country righteousness, and just enough high-voltage southern rock to keep the party moving at a good clip.
Eutsler and Bell each contribute three originals to the successful debut album which could spark some hits with Livin’, I’ll Go to Prison, History, Lies, What Makes You a Man, and Gone. Eutsler’s writing approach and delivery come off as earnest and convincing. As a critic who enjoys old-fashioned country values, I took an immediate liking to Bell’s memorable song “What Makes You a Man” with its strong material emphasizing the virtues of God, family and honest living. Three tracks also feature co-writing of Music Row's 2012 Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year, Johnny Bulford.
Five guest musicians assume a fairly large role on the album without being too assertive. They include Jon Conley (mandolin), Todd Gummerman (piano, organ, strings), Mike Johnson (pedal steel), Justin Woods (percussion), and Paul Carabello (additional guitars, percussion). Woods also served as the album’s producer. The overall result is impressive music that demonstrates the depth and versatility of the band and guests. I’m certain that “Livin’” will bring the band much attention and success. I don’t think their material is so slick that it will lead to some radio station backlash.
If they asked for my advice, I might suggest they consider incorporating even more boogie, blues, hillbilly honky-tonk or humorous novelty flavors. These elements helped take Charlie Daniels Band and the Kentucky Headhunters to the top of the country hit parade. And with a good fiddler in the band, why not liven up the music with some feisty instrumentals to give LiveWire a different feel, personality and slightly unique sound? Despite those personal perspectives, LiveWire has produced a highly entertaining 5-star album with music that’s definitely worth pursuing. The consistent record consolidates their strengths and will launch them into new territory. (Joe Ross, Sun209: The Americana Music Journal)