Riley Etheridge, Jr., is a smart fellow from South Carolina who moved to the big city armed with dreams and ambition to make good with his guitar and some fine thinking-man’s country songs. Recently signed to Rock Ridge Music, Etheridge shows off his ability to blend country, blues, and roots rock with clever lyrical interplay on his second release, Powder Keg. A collection of 10 new tracks is played by a road-tested rhythm section from Etheridge’s touring band who are joined to perfection by Nashville ace session players, including mandolinist/violinist Jonathan Yudkin (Rascal Flatts, Shelby Lynne), pedal/lap steel player Dan Dugmore (Linda Ronstadt, Randy Travis) and harmonica player Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson). Fiery slide guitar fuels the southern-fried title track, and Mickey Raphael’s harmonica rips on the Cajun boogie “She’s Ready Already,” while a Memphis-style horn section highlights the grooving “Look At The State We’re In. “
But nothing grabs your attention more than Etheridge’s clever word play and finesse with the language of love, lust, and loss. Who knew transgressions rhymed with possessions; and the way he fits those words into the country shuffle “Scene Of The Crime” would make Lyle Lovett and Texas proud. The clear sentiment delivered on the quiet love song “Nobody’s Hero” and the folk rocker “Travesty Of Love” show a songwriter with real intellect who makes you want to hit the repeat button again and again to catch what he said.
Riley Etheridge, Jr., is a rising star in Americana music and hopefully this “Powder Keg” will blast him a foothold on the scene.