The debut album from Kelsey’s Woods, One More Heart to Break, was a lovely little country-rock downer, full of moody ballads of broken hearts and romantic laments decorated with fiddle and steel guitar. The band’s new disc showcases the group’s other side, with a bunch of plugged-in Lucero-style anthems about bad women, long road trips, and drinking binges. The new songs are strengthened by a new lineup—the former trio has expanded to a quintet, led by lead singer Dave Kennedy and fortified by Stevie Jones’ piano and organ—and better production, which gives even the relatively stripped-down tracks like “Bottle to Forget” and “Whiskey and Cocaine” cinematic scope. Kennedy is also a much more confident writer and singer than he was on One More Heart to Break, matching the band’s instrumental upgrades.
Kelsey’s Woods hasn’t exactly turned into a party band—When the Morning Comes Around is more like the soundtrack to the squinty-eyed hours after the bars have closed but before the whiskey has run out than a screaming good-time record. But the band’s newly revealed polish and confidence puts them near the top of a crowded local roots-rock field.
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