Three Day Threshold are on their fourth studio album, and it is their best yet. Straight Out Of The Barrel is a mature effort that balances solid musicianship with tasteful restraint where it is needed. Starting out as a country-punk band, T.D.T. have minimalized the punk influence, relying mostly on that genre’s tempos, lyrical attitudes, and some bare bones guitar rhythms. Emphasis here has shifted over to a hard country style.
The punk cowboys have not abandoned their trademark music or their sense of humor. They’ve only reigned in some of its rough edges, and they now apply it more like the seasoned studio veterans they have become over the last ten years. Opening track “Whisky River” defines this maturity with an acoustic guitar at the beginning being the only thing behind singer-songwriter Kier Byrnes rich vocal. Right away you can hear how much Byrnes has grown as a singer. With a new sense of confidence and ease, Byrnes semi-husky voice unfolds with rugged beauty over acoustic, electric, steel guitars, banjo, and one of the heftiest rhythm sections in Boston.
The line-up this time is Kier Byrnes on vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin and harp; John Stump on bass; P.J. Aspesi on drums; Zac Taylor on guitars, and Evan Gavry on dobro. Guest musicians are mandolin player Jimmy Ryan and fiddler Jenavieve Varga. Each band member contributes heavily to the songs and each is an essential cornerstone. Three Day Threshold, while seeming like a straight-forward hard country band, actually have many layers and textures going on. Guitars, banjo, fiddles, and mandolin dart in and around each other to weave a solid good time sound, and the thumping rhythm section has no problems supporting it and carrying it forward. This makes Straight Out Of The Barrel stand up to repeated listening. There is something new to key in on each time it plays.
The band still can blend off-beat humor to textured, rocking music. “My Favorite Titty Bar,” despite its adolescent title, has plenty of gritty guitar picking in the melodic phrases. “Little Luna” features Byrnes’s call and response vocals, whip chord rhythms, and a two-step beat and “Gator Farm” has a slappy rhythm, and “Little Bit Lonesome,” a humorous take on drinking one’s sorrows away, is pure beer drinking, sing along fun.
Songs like “Coffee/Whisky” and “Leaving Of Liverpool” are pure entertainment and the guitars mean business as they knock off a lot of rowdy excellence. Byrnes’ voice holds up strong during moments when he sings with little or no accompaniment.
“Little Bit Lonesome,” a man’s painful lament, is beautifully and mournfully rendered with a steel guitar phrase, and a tasteful country lead guitar pitches in an extra aching, hauntingly pretty melody.
“Faithful Faithful” takes a swipe at old time country evangelicals with a racing banjo line that makes this outing so authentic, especially during Byrnes’ mock preacher chorus. The country beat and chicken picking is speeded up for a real country hoedown. The singer is begging his savior to rescue him from a jealous husband, its racing beat playfully mocking his predicament.
“Jim Beam” closes this outing with a another pretty steel guitar melody , and its alcohol related humor pretty much sums up Three Day Threshold’s commitment to fun times, and good, solid country flavored rowdy music.
All of these 11 new tunes have a perfect blend of punk’s attitude and tempo with two-step shuffle beats, country rock rhythm guitar, and gritty, twangy banjo, and chicken picking lead guitar. Before the last song is over, you’ll want to play this CD again.