Elliot Randall is a country singer-songwriter who doesn’t sound like he should be from San Francisco.  His music has an authentic feel, with lyrics that recall Waylon and Willie, along with the darker Merle and even the offbeat Dwight Yoakum, all coupled with the poppier sensibilities of The Eagles.  The album is crystal clear, produced to perfection, yet it still feels organic.  One of the biggest problem I have with “major label” bands is that the production always seems to eclipse the artist, leaving behind only traces of personality.  Randall is indie, but he’s managed to capture the purity of major-label production without losing his authenticity.

Perhaps his ability to move between the safety of the studio and the initimacy of personal songwriting comes from the variety of his experiences: He grew up in South Carolina, the son of an Assistant Dean of English and Literature at Northwestern University, and earned a golf scholarship at Arizona State.  Not to many country singers are experts at golf.

His second album, Caffeine & Gasoline, has tasty harmonies and ballads, along with good roadside barnburners like the title track, and showcases his guitar-playing to the fullest.  There’s not a bad song here, but there’s one in particular that I feel deserves special mention.  “Chasing My Tail” is a versatile anthem, one that could be a Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, or Modest Mouse song, and it’s easy to hear the vast possibilities of this song.  Not that I’m saying Randall doesn’t do it well.  He does.  His pitch-perfect voice and understated guitar solo are breathtaking.  This is one of those songs that makes the heart climb and race.  It’s inspirational.  Oh, and the slow ballad Casanova is also worth mentioning–a beautiful song.  Hell, the whole album is terrific.  Put it on, start your engine, and lose yourself in the drive.

Caffeine and Gasoline

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