CD Review: Please Stand By – Brent Amaker and the Rodeo

Do you like country music? I don’t really care if you do or not, chances are assuredly high that you will like this country music. If you enjoy well bundled songs you’re going to enjoy Brent Amaker and the Rodeo’s third LP, Please Stand By. Does it essentially differ from the prior Rodeo CDs, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo and Howdy Do? Maybe not a lot. Does it need to? Not at all. The Rodeo has a winning formula here in their dark humor mixed with deep love and respect for the country genre.

I don’t even want to sound like I am dismissing the song’s lyrics in anyway by just calling them darkly humorous. There’s actually a lot of pain and twists in them. Take “Man in Charge” and “Break My Broken Heart”. “Man in Charge,” with its I’m your worst fear/I’m your best friend/I’m a freight train coming/Coming round the bend brings in the mysteriously evil elements of other Rodeo songs, “I Guess You Wanna Die,” “You Ain’t Savin’ Me” and “This is the Gun”. The lyrics in “Break My Broken Heart,” You ain’t gonna break my broken heart/Unless you put it back together first/You’ll have to pick up all the pieces/And some of them might have turned to dust, might sound light along with the fast-paced music, but it’s very touching. I also like when Amaker sings, Break My Heart, Tiny Dancer and then there’s a guitar solo. Other songs that really capture a country western pathos are “Garden of Love,” perhaps the most romantic of all Rodeo songs, (You’re a fine looking woman/I’m a desperate man . . . love is like a flower), and “Doomed” (Love is the only legacy you leave behind/And we’re all doomed) – with yeehaws in the background.

“Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk,” is a song of theirs I have heard a few times live and I am really glad they put it on the CD. It’s funny in a lighthearted, kind of frightening machismo way (You should hold your tongue my dear/ You talk a lot but I can’t hear/anything but lies from you). The outro ends with one of my favorite lines, Thanks for coming folks/Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. Amaker’s voice, with its low growl, is one of my favorites and the instrumentation on Please Stand By is clear and warm. It’s Brent Amaker and the Rodeo’s best entire CD to date. Take your hat off to the masters.

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo – Please Stand By (Spark and Shine Records)
Please Stand By is out October 19th.