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July 2016

Moreland & Arbuckle
Promised Lane or Bust
Alligator Records

Moreland & Arbuckle

Aaron Moreland and Dustin Arbuckle are true road warriors, having logged over 400,000 miles in their touring van before finally trading it in for a new ride. They’ve found a kindred spirit in drummer Kendall Newby and together they’re touring the world, sharing their brand of roots/rock/blues with everyone. I’ve been a fan from the very beginning and their debut disc for Alligator Records, Promised Land or Bust, finds them carrying on in fine Moreland & Arbuckle fashion.

Aaron’s guitar provides the base intro before Dustin joins the fray, blowing a mean harp burst as he begins to sing “Take Me With You (When You Go). Here Dustin portrays a lost soul, looking for a bit of salvation when a wayward angel appears to bring some light to Dustin’s life, “And I cried…Wooh…take me with you…when you go…Promised Land or bust.” It’s not clear that Dustin makes the Promised Land but he’s definitely trying to get there. “Mean & Evil” conjures up the Hill Country vibe that Aaron & Dustin are known for while Kendall holds the back end down on the pots and pans, and here we find a man so mean the Devil’s afraid of him. “Mean ole Stack-o-lee…shot poor Billy…shot him with a 45…said he’s bad now…don’t compare with the likes of you…mean and evil…in everything you do.” Dustin’s blowing a mean harp here and it’s apparent the man he’s comparing Stack-o-lee to is one mean sob.

The driving force of Aaron’s guitar continues to hold down the momentum for our next cut, “Hannah,” and Dustin is thinking he’s in love with Hannah. “And now, underneath the olive tree…is where my Hannah sleeps.” Love went wrong, Hannah proved to be a mean, spiteful woman and now Dustin’s burying the woman he thought he loved. “When the Lights are Burning Low” finds Dustin in love with a woman with amazing looks and a dirty mind that Dustin loves. “She can’t be appeased…when she’s got the hunger...don’t try to tease her…when her blood is up…she tries to push me…til I nearly break..but when the lights are low…she fills my loving cup.” She’s the one Dustin needs when the lights are burning low and that’s probably all I should say about that.

A familiar melody fills my ears as the band moves on to the next track, “Woman Down in Arkansas,” a Lee McBee tune. They do it justice as Dustin proudly proclaims, “I got a woman down in Arkansas…the sweetest thing you ever saw…she breaks my heart when she goes away…and I just want you to tell me…Baby, you’re my everything.” Dustin has it bad for the woman in Arkansas and hopefully she feels the same way about him. Up next is “Mount Comfort” and it’s the first ballad on the disc. “Living up high…on old Mount Comfort…but I’m tired…so tired of being all alone...if I could fly…you know I’d sail back down town…but I ain’t got wings…so I guess I’ll just hang around.” Mount Comfort is a place of refuge for Dustin, but he’d much rather share it with someone than live there all alone.

The band moves on to “Long Did I Hide It” and this tune to me is a classic Moreland & Arbuckle tune in the vein they like to write. “It’s been six months…since I cracked a smile…long did I hide it…and I ain’t been loved since I was a child…long did I hide it.” Dustin has a great game face that he hides all of the pain he’s experienced behind and this tune accurately conveys that feeling to me. I didn’t expect “Waco Avenue” to be a ballad but that’s ok. Aaron intricately picks the melody as Dustin tells us about Waco Avenue. “Dream away another day…the sun keeps shining through…down on Waco Avenue.” So of course the band tackles Slim Harpo’s “I’m a King Bee” next and we completely switch moods. “I’m a King Bee…buzzing round your hive…we can make sweet honey, Baby…if you let me come inside.” Dustin blows a mean harp solo during the tune and it’s about as right as you can get.

Kendall’s light touch on the snare rim leads us into our next cut, “Long Way Home,” and here it’s apparent that Dustin has found another evil woman to get him into trouble. “Seems like every single night…you’re at your favorite spot downtown…want to keep the whiskey flowing…so you keep throwing money down…come time to make the rent…you don’t have a penny to pay…hope that whiskey keep you warm…when you don’t have a place to stay…it’s a long…long way back home.” Sounds like Dustin has a clear understanding of what this woman is all about and he’ll be just fine.

A mournful harp solo provides the intro for the final track on the record, “Why’d She Have to Go (and Let Me Down)?” “Three months into my freshman year…I met a skinny little girl who liked to sing for beer…she could entertain for hours on end…and then one day…she never woke up again…tell me why…did she have to go…(and let me down)? I like the satirical nature of the final cut and appreciate the cleverness of the lyrics.

It’s safe to say that Moreland & Arbuckle have a lot to be proud of with their first release for Alligator Records. Promised Land or Bust features some of their best writing to date, supported by an uncanny ability to compose the music behind the lyrics. The band’s calendar is full, they’ve got a great disc to tour behind, and life is good for Aaron, Dustin and Kendall right now. Their schedule can be found on the band’s website at, and stop by their web store for a copy of the new record. That should hold you over until the band comes to visit a town near you.

--- Kyle Deibler



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