In “Sunrise In The Land of Milk and Honey,” Cracker Regains Its Swing

When Cracker first was heard, when “Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)” first came blaring from early ’90s FM stations, it seemed like David Lowery was embarked on a logical continuum from Camper Van Beethoven to a sound as Southern and traditional as Jack Daniels being poured on a bass boat.  By Kerosene Hat, it was perfected: Johnny Hickman’s guitar was fluid as the James River, and Lowery, in character, was transplanted from his Santa Clara hippie guise to the barefoot boy who’d grown up on Wet Willie and could transition from irony to sincerity as easily as sliding from a bar chord G to E.

Things went South, if you’ll pardon the expression, by the time the Clinton administration reached terminal decline, and besides, by the early part of this decade, Camper Van Beethoven’s rusting engine was re-lubed and cranked up.  By the time Cracker put out Greenland a year or so ago, it seemed over.

Well, it’s perhaps a giveaway that there’s a song on Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey called “Time Machine,” for surely, when you listen to this incredible album, it’s 1992 again.  The band plays with swing, punky power chords, and propulsive drumming.  One could almost imagine Lowery, who on recent CVB tours has seemed like a laid-back suburban dad, strutting on the stage of the old 930 Club, shirtless and youthful.  We did not know that what the world needs now is a new version of Cracker, but we got one, and I dare say it is the best thing they have ever done.

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