It is not easy to straddle musical fences the way Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys do. They may be retro down to the 1949 bus they tour the country in, but they bring western swing, hillbilly music and roots-rock raging into the last days of the 20th century.
Feelin’ Kinda Lucky is Big Sandy’s third album for HighTone (their first, released on Dionysius as trio, had a more rockabilly feel) and it’s the first they produced themselves (although they got a bit of help from engineer Mark Linett). Throughout, it shows a measure of finesse previous releases lacked. Constant touring has no doubt made the playing tighter than ever. Sandy’s vocals, smooth as always, are a bit more supple, and the steel playing of Lee Jeffriess is further out there than ever before. He shows amazing growth and an inventive style as he induces warbles, echoes and shimmering vibrato into the mix with no pedals in sight.
Jeffriess’ interplay with guitarist Ashley Kingman gives the band a special appeal. At times you would swear there’s more than two guitars in there — especially when they’re mimicking the big-band fiddles and horns of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, as they do on “Have You Ever Had The Feelin’”, a song written by Webb Pierce that was based on a Wills tune. That song is the sole cover on the record; the rest (with the exception of Jeffriess’ instrumental showcase, “Bugtussle Saturday Night”) were written by Big Sandy, who shows a true touch for capturing a variety of vintage styles while making each one sound vibrant. The jumping blues of “Greatest Story Ever Told”, the sultry ballad “I Love You But I’m Gonna Leave”, and the swinging title track are three very distinct parts of their sound.
While these and the other songs are based on forms that aren’t currently in vogue, the band’s delightful ensemble play and Sandy’s seductive yet heartfelt vocals lend Feelin’ Kinda Lucky an air of freshness that’s hard to resist.