Unabashedly Southern and raw as a Hell’s Angel’s ass after he upends his hog, Powder Mill are one of the best goddamn bands to emerge from below the Mason-Dixon in the past decade. Like kindred forebears Lynyrd Skynyrd and Drive-By Truckers, Powder Mill mines the South’s rich folklore, inviting drawl and working class ethos to create unshakeable honest, utterly unvarnished music packed with dirty truths and shadowy humor. And these Missouri boys just keep getting better.
Album number three, Money, Marbles, And Chalk (released June 15) is Powder Mill’s Second Helping, Decoration Day or Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, i.e. the albums that refined all the promising virtues inside Skynyrd, DBT and the Crowes and created the skeleton for everything that came after. Money, Marbles, And Chalk is paycheck-to-paycheck mean, and tender as a longtime marriage finding quiet comfort silently holding hands at the end of another long-ass day of grinding it out. These are tales wrung from deep emotion but also a deep appreciation of good times and the reckless, ornery fun that can be had when one hawks one in the boss’ eye and jumps into their truck without worrying what tomorrow or even the next hour might bring. Sometimes you just gotta say “fuck it” and let your real feelings loose, and Powder Mill is just what should be playing when you do.
And while they resonate with choice ancestors like the Crowes, Black Oak Arkansas, etc. they’ve managed, as all the truly great ones do, to find their own space within familiar territory, often injecting a hillbilly strain in unexpected places or openly embracing the omnipresent country music around them. Every move feels right on Money, Marbles, And Chalk, culminating in a four song closing section that’s passionately riled up (about all the right things) and unutterably human in every way. Rock ‘n’ roll feels like the roughshod church it can be when a band testifies like this. All I can add is “A-freakin-men, brothers!”