Album Review: Terry McBride “Rebels & Angels”

What happens when you add talented musicians, songwriters and singers together over the course of ten songs? Well, you get "Rebels & Angels," the debut solo album from Terry McBride.

For over four decades, Terry McBride has worked within the music industry as a musician, songwriter, frontman and solo artist but throughout that time, he’s never released a full-length album. Until now. Working with frequent co-writer Luke Laird as the album’s producer, Terry McBride’s “Rebels & Angels” is easily one of the low-key best releases of 2020. Blending everything that made 90s and early 2000s country music great, the ten songs on Rebels & Angels suggests that McBride, (who had hits during this period with his band McBride & The Ride), continues to have the goods to not only make great music but as the mainstream of country music turns back into that era’s defining characteristics, even if only a little bit, make music that is decidedly mainstream. That being said, given the DYI nature of his music and this project itself, mainstream radio AirPlay wasn’t likely a goal or expectation for Rebels & Angels but something that just happens when the core group of musicians making that music happen to do it so well.

“Calling All Hearts” uses a classic, Ronnie Milsap like melody which serves as a counter to the lyrics which are more cautionary about the kind of woman who is nothing but a heartbreaker. “She Shows Up” will bring the nostalgia to 1990s country music while the title track duet features a fine vocal from the mostly retired Patty Loveless on a song Terry McBride co-wrote with superstar Chris Stapleton.

“Like Neon” feels ready for the radio (if not for Terry than for another artist) with a jovial melody and sing-a-long filled with honky tonk two steppin’ fiddles and anyone who loves Jon Pardi should be checking this one out. “Corpus Christi Wind” was a mild hit for Terry’s late father Dale McBride back in the 1970s and Terry revives it here, on his debut full-length solo record. It’s a great song and a wonderful tribute to his father.

Quite simply, Rebels & Angels, which also has fun songs like “Honky Tonkiest Time I Ever Had" and “Leave The Neon Light On,” is a blast to listen to and certainly will strike a fancy of fans of country music and Texas/Red Dirt music. Here's hoping it's successful enough to get Terry McBride another record.