Jeremy Porter spins his tales of dive bars and the bands and lonely people who are drawn to them, you can almost see the cigarette smoke and smell the whiskey. This is his second album with The Tucos since 2009, but Porter’s resume dates back to the 1990s and the Marquette, MI punk band The Regulars. These days, his music leans toward southern rock and country, with an emphasis on irresistible melodies.
Above The Sweet Tea Line is the most fun when Porter and The Tucos are dishing about rock and roll life on the road. The galloping “Hey Kentucky” depicts groupies and drunken lead vocalists, while the equally energetic “Bottled Regrets” concerns a band whose followers “weren’t exactly lining up around the block in droves.” Still, Porter maintains that his deathbed advice to any aspiring musician would be, “Just go get em, tiger, if that’s what you believe.”
“Josh” is a perceptive look at survival, as a guy recalls the tough-as-nails cat he had as a boy, and the rollicking “Sounds Like Goodbye” and “Trouble In Paradise” are spiked with bitterness. The slow songs are equally fascinating, especially when guest Jillian Rae plays fiddle and sings backup on the boozy love song “Don’t Call Me Darlin’.” The acoustic-based “Sleepy Eyes” is a delicate lullaby that manages to be both comforting and unsettling, and as with much of Above The Sweet Tea Line, humorous.