Runaway Freeway Blues

Born of heartache—Cruz Contreras formed the group after the 2007 dissolution of his marriage, which also busted up his previous band—the Black Lillies are no longer strictly a vehicle for catharsis. On its third album, this seriously fierce trad-country outfit indulges in musical joyrides (see the sublime “Smokestack Lady”) and offers heartfelt character studies of Vietnam soldiers, California dreamers and regular ol’ folks looking for their pieces of the pecan pie. Some songs barrel forward like 18-wheelers, others amble like cowpokes with no place to go. Either way, Contreras is right at home among the fiddles and pedal steel, an ace storyteller who’s found his perfect platform.


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