Review: Ricky Stein & The .44 “Crazy Days”

Ricky Stein's new album "Crazy Days" will sneak up on you like a few too many shots of whiskey.

The cover of "Crazy Days" shows Ricky Stein to be an average Texan with a relaxed expression, windswept hair, checked shirt, jeans and boots. However, the album will catch you off guard, because there's nothing common about the bluesy, country talent of 25-year-old Ricky Stein. And it's obvious that Stein has immersed himself in the wealth of live music found in his native Austin, Texas.

The album begins with the blues-infused "One And The Same," which illustrates that Ricky Stein can rock a concert stage. It's followed by the terrific "Don't Leave Me Hangin' On." But the album really comes into its own with the Americana track "Keap St (We've Come A Long Way)," which shows the musical influence of artists like Townes Van Zandt and the Traveling Wilburys. The music is infectious, and Stein's authentic vocal performance of the thought-provoking lyrics proves that this is the type of music Ricky Stein was born to make.

The biggest surprise on the album is the title track "Crazy Days." In a subtle and emotional performance, Ricky Stein reflects on his past and future. In fact, the song brings the concept of the album's cover art into full focus. You see, Ricky Stein is taking a personal moment to look for the meaning in his life, and the the title track offers intimate and intriguing musical moments that succeed mightily. Band members of The .44, including Phil Morris, Stuart Burns, Nathaniel Klugman and Josh Weinholt, also deserve special recognition.

At the end of the album, Ricky Stein ends his soul searching musical journey with the hopeful "We're Gonna Make It," which has particular resonance in these hard economic times. He sings: "Every day is a new disaster - always something that you gotta master." On "Crazy Days," it's clear that Ricky Stein has survived the storms of his life through the mastery of  his own unique style of bluesy Americana. And listening to Ricky Stein's "Crazy Days" is bound to lift your spirits, too.