On Full Exposure Live,
Texas troubadour Cory Morrow sets a new standard for live albums. Operating on strictly high-octane fuel, Morrow, with his whiskey-soaked voice, and his take-no-prisoners band perform as if everything that matters is on the line -- perhaps because the songs harbor such emotional tales. The grinding fury of "Light on the Stage" lends the minstrel life the feel of an epic Old West myth, "Straight to Hell" burns red-hot with the righteous fury of an unrepentant ne'er-do-well on a suicide mission, and Billy Joe Shaver
's "Live Forever" is delivered as a dance-hall stomp, the lyrics' optimistic message about a better day ahead heightened by a pounding pulse. Fellow Lone Star hard country advocate Pat Green
sits in with a personable guest vocal on a rambunctious, fiddle- and pedal steelfueled version of Waylon Jennings
's classic "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?" With songs such as "Big City Stripper" and a fiercely boogied-up "Beer" that would do ZZ Top proud, Morrow makes it clear he's not playing the sensitive singer-songwriter here, so be prepared for a merciless pace and musical depth that compares favorably to a Springsteen performance. The track list is fleshed out by three new studio cuts produced by Steve Earle compadre Ray Kennedy
: the Earle-like rocker "Nothing Better," the acoustic, fingerpicked up-tempo "GTMO Blues," and "21 Days," a rousing country rock paean to life on the road. If Morrow's next studio album measures up to these new cuts, expect a monster. For now, Full Exposure Live
-- which also includes a DVD of the live show -- kicks like nobody's business.