More circumstance than pomp, Casey Ruff's new album is the sound of a barely contained urgency: a guilty conscience, another round, a finger in the face of The Man.
This is your father's Alt-country if your dad is Stompin' Tom Connors or an unhinged Neil Young.
It's a conservatively dressed elderly gentleman with a heroin jones and a raised .45. Like someone eloquently describing a house fire through a big 'ol grin - just telling it like they see it.
Casey writes what he sees. When he sings "I was born in a bar", you can believe him.
What makes the record greater than the sum of its parts, the weirdness just below the surface, is the undeniable brightness of it all.
The themes are tough and adult but the pitfalls of revenge-lust and self-pity are mostly avoided.
One might expect the usual aggressive, steel-toed bar band arrangements from such lyrical themes, but the ensemble's orchestration is clean, tight and smart without sounding stuffy or over-rehearsed.
It sounds like a good time, like Casey and his band are in love with each other.
Casey Ruff wears the familiar Americana garb like a denim suit that's a little too small for him. He's bustin' loose and marching onward. Happy graduation, Mr. Ruff.
— Morgan Geer of Drunken Prayer