Texas troubadour Hayes Carll turned heads in 2008 with a pledge to kick the Messiah's ass ("She Left Me for Jesus"). The title track on his latest is a soldier's lament involving heroin, space travel and David Bowie. Now that's country music! In fact, it is: Carll unreels road-damaged stories with a boozy twang, his wicked couplets cut with a sentimental streak even when they're negotiating a hate fuck (the hilarious Democrat-Republican hookup "Another Like You"). Yet it's the more tender songs (the hard-luck ballad "Chances Are") that hit the hardest. What's that they say about comics and tragic streaks?
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