Dwight Yoakam's mixture of traditional honky-tonk and rock psychedelia. Yoakam has always had a strong following in the San Francisco Bay Area, the original base of operations for the Mother Truckers' core members, Teal Collins and Josh Zee.
Like Yoakam, for whom they have opened, Collins and Zee are fully capable of holding off on the psychedelia and performing older country styles straight. Their tortured, unflinching songs of relationship hell owe something to Merle Haggard; there's a lot of pedal steel in the songs on their last album, Broke, Not Broken; and their harmony singing is pure traditional stuff. Yet all of the foregoing could be said of a number of roots bands in Austin, to which the Mother Truckers relocated about three years ago. It used to be that country rock bands made the opposite migration, but at this point for them to have risen to the top of the Austin scene is an impressive accomplishment. They've done it by adding a new dimension to rock-inflected country music: a dimension that might be called existential.
It's a bit unexpected to hear couplets like "I guess that puts us in an awkward position/