On June 20, Little Rock favorites (and former Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase contestants) Stephen Neeper and The Wild Hearts will play in town, at Midtown Billiards, and it will probably be a better representation of the group’s mellow, `70s swamp rock vibe than anything they’ve ever recorded (the dankness of that place can only add to the effect), but you should know anyway that the band has a new album out, called “Southern Truth,” and it’s a good listen. It’s an album best appreciated on a boat, in a denim jacket, on the Fourth of July.
It opens with a song called “New Momma,” which isn’t a cover of Neil Young’s “New Mama,” but is sort of a spiritual descendant — the intertextuality of the whole thing gets you in the right head-space. There are Southern rock anthems with titles like “Whiskey, Texas” and “Dance and Drink,” and I’ve never actually listened to The Black Crowes, but part of me suspects that Stephen Neeper and The Wild Hearts sound like The Black Crowes. (Context clues.) “Southern Truth” is the most quintessentially Wild Hearts-ian name they could have chosen for this record too, which forces you think in stock phrases like “dual guitar interplay.” It reminds you that Lynyrd Skynyrd were always better songwriters than they got credit for being.