Album Review – The Broken Spokes – “Where I Went Wrong”
Congratulations, you have just stumbled upon your next favorite country band, and your next favorite country album. From Houston, TX, The Broken Spokes are a beloved local and regional traditional country outfit with a name synonymous with country due to the famous honky tonk in Austin. But having focused solely on live shows henceforth as opposed to aspiring for some sort of national attention, The Broken Spokes are also the best band you’ve never heard of. They’re looking to change that with their debut album Where I Went Wrong.
This thing is so damn good. If you needed to select a country music album to shoot into outer space to represent country music to other civilizations, or bury in a vault so when humans blow themselves to smithereens there’s something to repopulate country music with, Where I Went Wrong would not be a bad candidate. It’s that virtuous, that country, and truly flawless in its execution where there’s not one sour note, one bad turn of phrase, one weak song, or flat solo. Everything here is *chef kiss* excellent cover to cover.
Meanwhile, if you need an audio representation of the textbook definition of what country music actually is in its purest form, Where I Went Wrong would totally work. It’s a classic and traditional country album, but so dripping with present-day appeal from the passion brought to the music and the sincerity with which it’s delivered, it doesn’t feel dated at all. This album is beaming with enjoyment.
Where I Went Wrong is also one of those albums that when you first hear it, you’re constantly flipping through the liner notes for the songwriters because you can’t believe some of these songs weren’t country standards written 50 or 60 years ago. There are a few obvious cover songs on the album, like “Driving Nails In My Coffin” made famous by Ernest Tubb, and “Honky Tonk Song” by Mel Tillis. But the original songs from The Broken Spokes slide right in line with tunes that have withstood the test of time, and are what make this album worth seeking out.
Frontman and singer Brent McLennan, and guitarist Josh Artall co-write arguably the album’s best tracks, including the first two songs “Where I Went Wrong” and “All I Hear You Say.” Simply from that opening salvo, you’re completely hooked on what The Broken Spokes are slinging here. The pair also contribute the great tracks “River of Blues” and “Waiting So Patiently” to the record. Another standout of the record is “Someday, Not Today” written by Matt Hillyer formerly of Eleven Hundred Spring and Larry Hooper. Cover, original, or co-write, each song on this album is a testament to country music, buying into the beauty of country music’s simplicity.
The instrumentation on this album is also excellent, and in bursts, absolutely incredible. The steel guitar from Kevin Skrla who also deserves great credit for producing the album is all perfectly relevant to the time period each song looks to evoke, while also overachieving in both the technical proficiency and emotional impact. The same goes for the fiddle from Ellen Story, and the lead guitar licks from Josh Artall. And with bass player Lawrence Cevallos and drummer Gus Alvarado, you can tell this is a band that has put in their 1,000 hours plus in Austin and Houston honky tonks, and was well-seasoned before they ever chose to step into the studio.
There is nothing especially special or unique with The Broken Spokes. They’re most certainly not being innovative, or even really that original within the country space. The magic here is how they have embraced the true roots of country music, and interpreted them in the modern context with such love and passion that the music feels more palpable and alive than with other traditional country bands, while illustrating the beauty of country music to the audience in a way that feels vital. Singer Brent McLennan sounds like a ghost from country music’s past, not a modern performer.
There were a lot of country albums released in July 15th, 2022. I mean a lot. But this is the one that when it comes to just sheer listening pleasure with the risk of getting stuck in your listening rotation for a long time to come, The Broken Spokes and Where I Went Wrong come out on top.
Two Guns Up (9/10)
– – – – – – – – – –
Purchase from The Broken Spokes
July 19, 2022 @ 9:21 am
My phone was on shuffle mode when I hit play so it went to “These Empty Arms of Mine” and I can’t stop playing that song over but any song with heavy fiddle/steel kick off hooks me immediately. This is country music heaven
July 19, 2022 @ 10:42 am
As near a perfect review as I’ve ever seen you write, Trigger. Great album.
July 19, 2022 @ 9:09 pm
July 19, 2022 @ 11:15 am
About 30 seconds into the first video, and… sold!
July 19, 2022 @ 12:05 pm
First time hearing of this band. I’m currently on my 3rd time listening today. I’m really enjoying this and Kimberley Kelly’s new album.
July 19, 2022 @ 12:09 pm
That is sure country. Thanks for this — would never have discovered them otherwise.
Trig — you heard the Jesse Dayne & the Sagebrush Drifters record yet? That is in my top 10 of the year so far. Great debut from an Idaho band.
July 19, 2022 @ 12:12 pm
I’ve got them on my list. Someone, maybe you, recommended them to me a week or two ago.
July 19, 2022 @ 9:23 pm
Here a second high recommendation for Jesse Dayne. A great album. Giving the broken spoke a listen right now and loving what I’m hearing so far.
July 19, 2022 @ 12:15 pm
Your new song is fire. Catchy as Bubonic Plague.
Keep it up.
July 19, 2022 @ 1:42 pm
This band is the next ‘big thing’ to hit country music with some amazing new songs which are sure to go viral. Can’t wait to see this band on the main stage.
July 19, 2022 @ 2:54 pm
Awww. Echoes of 1100 Springs! Steel guitar, fiddle, piano . . . chef’s kiss!
July 19, 2022 @ 9:44 pm
That’s old school, older than what I’m a big fan of but damn that’s tight and I like it. Mad Props to them and you Trigger for the review!
July 20, 2022 @ 5:21 am
After reading this review I was thinking to myself that this better be pretty damn good to live up to that type of praise. Listening to the two songs posted, I’m not sure if they did, but they were good enough to make me want to hear the rest of the album. Thanks
July 20, 2022 @ 5:50 am
Another round for the band, sir! Great work.
July 20, 2022 @ 8:20 am
The Broken Spokes has been nominated for ‘Western Swing Band of the Year’ at the 2022 Texas Country Music Awards. Please vote for them now as voting ends soon. https://www.texascountrymusicassociation.org/2022vote?fbclid=IwAR3RHcESOsq-nz8iSNUtHcrj-BWiS0gp2XO8OkWlRE-hTnjc5iU5phXwJBk
And also vote for ‘Broken Spokes’ player ‘Steel Guitarist of the Year’ Kevin Skrla using the same voting form. He is incredible!
July 21, 2022 @ 2:14 pm
Another good album of traditional Country music!
July 22, 2022 @ 7:32 am
Coming back to reaffirm this album is really freaking good. Several spins top to bottom over the past few days for me. Another great find for my collection thanks to SCM. Thanks, Trig!
July 23, 2022 @ 1:27 pm
Going to have to listen to this closer but love what I am hearing!! Thanks for turning us on to another great band!