By Joshua Wallace
I have been a fan of Craig Gerdes since his 2018 release Smokin, Drinkin and Gamblin. That record featured some good rockin’ country music with some great songwriting on tracks like “Dead In A Box In Kentucky” and “Red Neck Sonsaabitches”. His new record Tough As Nails picks up where that one left off with plenty of hot guitar pickin and good country songs. Let’s take a dive into some of these new tracks.
The title track “Tough As Nails” starts off acoustic with focus on Gerdes’s vocals. It’s the calm before the storm though as the full track kicks in hard with driving guitar riffs that echo the rocking country sounds of the late 70’s or 80’s. Be sure to check out the alternate bonus track version with longer jams. Up next on the album is a cover of the Roger Alan Wade cut “If Guitars Were Guns”. This song appeared on the 2012 Roger Alan Wade album Southbound Train and it was a favorite of mine off that record too. Gerdes takes the mostly acoustic Wade track and turns it into a barn burner that honors the spirit of the original while keeping it in the style of this record. Be sure to check out the extended 7 minutes plus bonus track version of this one also.
Another favorite is “Highwayman” which is an ode to life on the road. I particularly dig the guitar solo on this track and can imagine it being a longer affair when played live. The sound changes up a bit on the country blues inspired “The Hard Way” which is about the rougher side of a country singer’s life. The solo work on this one is a highlight with it’s bluesy sound and great pickin. The song “Tonight’s Not The Night” is another great rockin honky tonk tune that starts out with a hot guitar riff and doesn’t let go, just like the rest of the album.
This is a record that will be fun to hear live when live shows start up again. A lot of these tracks would play well in a live honky tonk setting with a rowdy crowd. The album has two bonus tracks that are extended versions of album tracks. I like that these songs get this kind of treatment, however I get the feeling that you could extend most of these songs with longer solos and jams with alternate arrangements. I can’t wait to see Craig Gerdes live again with some of these songs. Until then, you can support the band at their website with this link. Tough As Nails is out everywhere as of April 24th, 2020.
Favorite Tracks : Tough As Nails, If Guitars Were Guns, Highwayman, The Hard Way. Tonight’s Not The Night
Craig Gerdes – Tough As Nails (2020)
- Tough As Nails
- If Guitars Were Guns
- Between The Cradle And The Grave
- Pennies, Feathers and Dimes
- The Hard Way
- Most Times I Lost
- That Little Girl
- Tonight’s Not The Night
- Only The Road Knows
- Tough As Nails (Bonus)
- If Guitars Were Guns (Bonus)