Born and bred in Waco Texas, Brian Wright manages to purvey a somewhat weathered point of view. On this, his second album for Sugar Hill and fourth overall, he surveys a wide spectrum of traditional Americana, sounding as if he’s been traversing the heartland for a fairly long time. The fact that he manages to sound both so rugged and resilient may belie his newcomer status but it also portends a career that’s well watching.
With Rattle Their Chains, Wright brews that air of authenticity in a variety of ways, while never sounding forced or insincere. The swampy tangle of “Over Yet Blues” seems a bold way to start, but it establishes his no-holds barred commitment to his craft. The track that follows, the staunch and assertive “We Don’t Live There” doubles down on that M.O. before delving into the weary reflection accompanying such ballads as “Red Rooster Social Club,” “Haunted” and Weird Winter.” Still, regardless of remorse, Wright manages to convey a confidence that also asserts his authority. The boozy sway of “The Good Dead Queen,” with its Dixieland-style instrumentation, and the jaunty “Face of the Earth” give the album a lighter touch that finds the clouds clearing with a welcome respite from a sometimes sobering perspective.
Rattle Their Chains may not shake things up in the way its title might imply — after all, there’s no shortage of squinty-eyed troubadours navigating the route between Nashville and Austin these days — but it’s part and parcel of an impressive resume thus far. It’s the Wright stuff that bodes well for future possibilities.