Review: Ben Tyler Johnson And The Hired Guns EP

Ben Tyler Johnson and his band, The Hired Guns, are bursting with Texas energy and raw emotion on their new self-titled EP. After making a name for himself in his home of Smithville, Texas, Ben Tyler Johnson is ready for greener pastures and country music success.

The five-song EP begins with "Trouble Was My Middle Name," which is a dark, brooding Texas country cut. Although he's just barely over the legal drinking age, Ben Tyler Johnson has the voice of someone much older, and he gives the impression that only a few years ago "trouble" really was his middle name. As a songwriter, Ben Tyler Johnson has a willing audience ready to listen to his stories in song about his more rebellious years.

The biggest surprise of the album is the tender ballad "Whiskey Kiss." Slow songs show the mettle of a singer, and "Whiskey Kiss" proves that Ben Tyler Johnson has the vocal chops to move forward as a Texas country artist. With a little tighter production and a slight increase in tempo, Johnson could put "Whiskey Kiss" on the Texas music charts. "Get Away" is a fine cut that offers a Chris Knight-style story in song. Ben Tyler Johnson offers intense vocals and thought provoking lyrics.

"What's This All About" will resonate with many people Johnson's age who are struggling with money problems and the big decisions of life. This track successfully marries rock with Texas country in a unique way that could become a signature sound for Ben Tyler Johnson and the Hired Guns. But the band shouldn't give up traditional country and bluegrass altogether, because "Weathered And Rusted Old Man" is a feast for the ears and is a tribute to the band's musical heroes like Cody Canada and Robert Earl Keen.

The EP "Ben Tyler Johnson And The Hired Guns" deserves to be purchased and enjoyed by fans of Texas country. Yes, this is a young band who still has a lot to learn, but these musicians are bursting with energy and talent. Their new five-song album proves that they have many great days ahead. So get in on the ground floor of a band might just be the next big thing in Red Dirt music.