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Jonny Two Bags steps away from the punk for a little twang on Salvation Town

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Playing fast and furious is Jonny “Two Bags” Wickersham business and when you listen to Social Distortion (SD) you know business is good. Supplying the blistering licks for SD since 2000 he has established himself as a top guitar player with his tenure in SD as well as other bands (US Bombs, The Cadillac Tramps, Youth Brigade). Stepping outside the so called “punk rock box” Jonny has unleashed a solo record chock full of tunes that could just as easily fit on a Johnny Cash or Nick Lowe record as well as a SD.

Bringing in a cavalcade of musical brethren to help breathe life into the songs he has penned, Jonny has delivered an album that is pure ear candy. Jangly guitars dominate “One Foot In The Gutter” on this tune about right and wrong choices in life. Keyboards from Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello) give it a soulful feel. Pedal steel is present throughout the record giving songs like “Alone Tonight” and “Hope Dies Hard” a sound that lies somewhere between Hank Williams era country and the Gram Parsons era Byrds. The vocal harmonies with Jackson Browne on “Then You Stand Alone” are brilliant and David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) joins in the fun on the rootsy “Wayward Cain” which is one of the best songs on the album. The addition of Gaby Moreno on “The Avenues” really takes that track to another level. Her vocals compliment Jonny’s nicely and when she sings in Spanish it really adds a different flavor to the song.

Salvation Town is a very well written record and a great listen. Much like Mike Ness’ solo records Jonny has delivered an album that is not Social Distortion Lite” but definitely keeps a familiar tone. The multitude of musical layers carry the album providing a perfect place for his lyrics to call home. Salvation Town has something for everyone and will not only be devoured by music lovers everywhere but will appease the rabid followers of Social Distortion. Good music is good music no matter what the genre, and Jonny Two Bags has given us a mess of good music.

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