The Hotshot Freight Train, Poetic Devices and Personal Vices (Future Destination Records)
There are all kinds of echoes on the Hotshot Freight Train’s second album—the V-Roys and Mic Harrison’s later projects, in particular, but also Uncle Tupelo, Lucero, and even neo-classic rockers like the Hold Steady—but whatever songwriting debts the band has incurred are paid off with interest on this follow-up to 2007’s The Devil Pays in Counterfeit. The band’s ambitions are bigger here, too, the rootsy anthems lifted up by soaring harmony choruses, epic guitar solos, and rich organ embellishments. (The band itself is bigger, in fact, with new mandolin player Zach Whitaker and keyboardist/guitarist Jason Chambers.) These guys have been around for a while, so it’s especially rewarding to see the kind of progress they’ve made here.