Review: Austin Allsup "Cryin' Out Loud"

Austin Allsup is a rugged musician whose dry wit and passionate musicality are present on every note of his sensational new alt-country album titled "Cryin' Out Loud" from Smith Music. Allsup is a country star in the making, and he offers intense, multi-dimentional lyrics and strong vocals that can only be described as a perfect mixture of a Texas country-style Eddie Vedder with the lyrical prose of Lucinda Williams.
The similarities to Lucinda Williams don't end there, because both artists have famous fathers that loom large over their music. Williams learned the importance of lyrics from Miller Williams, one of America's greatest contemporary poets. Likewise, Tommy Allsup, famed lead guitarist for Buddy Holly and the Crickets, taught his son, Austin, everything he knew about music. But Austin Allsup wisely chose not to rest on his family name, and he carefully honed his craft. Allsup slowly strengthened his songwriting, vocals and live performance by traveling the long American highways with his friend, Mike McClure, who produced the album. In fact, Austin Allsup's tenacity and hard work during these years are clearly evident and paid off in a big way with "Cryin' Out Loud."

The album's cover photo features a picture of a confident Allsup taking a long stride - almost daring the listener to walk along with him and plunge into the first track. Indeed, "Patience Of A Pearl" has a Red Dirt edge with lyrics reminiscent of Chris Knight. Allsup's superb, emotion-filled vocal performance also gives vital clues to his seemingly complex personality. The second self-penned cut, "Blows Away," is even better and is filled with passion and exceptional instrumentation. However, the best song on the album is "Sweet Love." This tune is successful because it mixes all of the aforementioned key elements that make Austin Allsup a great country music artist. Plus, this song has a casual elegance and easy-going mood that will make it a top country chart hit.

The biggest surprise of the album is the title track "Crying Out Loud." The cut starts out strong with a low-key melodic vibe, but the tune slowly builds to a rousing crescendo. "Cryin' Out Loud" is a meaty, country music triumph that belongs on the iPod of every true fan of country music. "Cocaine Rodeo" also deserves special notice for it's rockin' beat, and it should be a live concert favorite with it's unforgetable lyric: "Wake me up and get me high."

Austin Allsup, who was born in Fort Worth but grew up in Little Rock, displays significant musical versatility on the country rock tune, "Free Ride," and the bluesy "Take Me With You." But the album "Cryin' Out Loud" really hits it stride with laid-back songs like the "Briley," the engaging "Walking" and the country anthem "Heaven Holds My Road." There's good reason Austin Allsup has shared the stage with a diverse group of artists such as Jason Boland, John Mellencamp, Blake Shelton, Cody Canada, Van Zandt, Lee Ann Womack, Randy Rogers and Stoney LaRue.

The 10 songs on Austin Allsup's "Cryin' Out Loud" showcase a music professional who is bold but not brash and confident without being cocky. This is a rare combination in the alt-country genre, and the album "Cryin' Out Loud" leaves no question that Austin Allsup is ready to rock the country charts for the next couple of decades or so.