Blue Dogs Return to Earnest Americana-rock Form on Sadler Vaden-produced ‘Big Dreamers’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Blue Dogs is a band that was formed in 1987 by bassist Hank Futch and vocalist/guitarist Bobby Houck. The band has always made easy-going Americana that tells a good story and is easy to sing along with. That hasn’t changed on the new album Big Dreamers, produced by longtime fan Sadler Vaden. The album is the band’s first in 16 years, so it’s something of a reunion. Part of that reunion is the fact that former member Phillip Lammonds wrote three of the songs on the album.

Of the album, Futch said, “We’re doing this to follow that dream of playing music and sharing our sound with whoever wants to listen.” Without a doubt, longtime fans and new fans alike will find plenty of reasons to listen.

There is something immediately familiar of the opening track “The Good Ones.” You can hear some similarities to American Aquarium, but there’s more to it than that. It’s familiar because it seems like a band that you found randomly one night at bar and immediately liked to the point that you would see them at every opportunity.

“If Ever” is one of two songs on the album co-written by Houck and Radney Foster. The song has a distinct blues sound with the piano and the guitar tone that sounds similar to some of The Rolling Stones’  blues songs. It may be a little different than most of the band’s catalog, but they pull it off successfully.

Jerry Douglas also makes an appearance, playing the dobro on “The Road You Don’t.” It’s not just Douglas’s presence that lends a bluegrass feel to this song. It also features the mandolin prominently. The chorus includes some parental advice. Houck sings, “Mama tucked us into bed with words of her own. She said, son don’t take that old road that everybody’s taking, when it might oughta be the road you don’t.” Don’t be surprised if you find yourself clapping and singing along with this one.

There are some good reasons why Blue Dogs have been such a beloved band for such a sustained period. They write earnest Americana-rock songs that are not only immediately familiar but also easy to relate to. They tell stories of nights out and finding true love. You’ll find a lot of that on this album. The sound of some of the songs like “Young Love” hearken back to the earliest days of the band. This is an album for the die-hard fans as well as fans who are just discovering Blue Dogs.

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