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Boxcar Junkies – Est. 1973

I’m not the kind of guy that needs to know the genre when I’m listening to music. Things hit my desk and I start spinning them. I like it, I love it, or it just comes and goes without incident or impact. Was it rock, pop, country, metal, bluegrass….? I don’t really pay attention. 

This made me pay attention.

Boxcar Junkies, led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Brandon Reid Allen, is a band you can’t cleanly fit into a box. For me, that’s the beauty of this music. It stands directly in front of you and challenges you by simply speaking to you. It doesn’t ask for a specific acceptance and response from its listener, it just rips its chest open and reveals its bloody beating heart. With that said, it is my job to describe what I heard on this 6-song EP. Wish me luck.

Let’s start with the lead single, “Hey Mama”. It’s the first track I heard from this set, and it gave me a John Mellencamp-like country rock feel. This drives a Mack truck instead of a tractor, but it has a similar sense of Americana. I listen to this and the rest of these songs and I feel like I’m getting a genuine article, a deeply rooted and organic truthfulness. Brandon Reid Allen’s soft and warm baritone can also feel like 40-grit sandpaper on your ears when it wants to. His vocals are dictated by lyrical content and fit the mood of these songs perfectly. All of these songs are very well written and have a lot to say, but it’s Allen’s vocals that really make them tick. Aside from “Hey Mama,” you can hear Allen’s versatility shine brightest on “Gypsy Soul” and “What About Love”. 

Brandon Reid Allen’s story is a complex one. This is a musician that has battled inner demons and homelessness, spending much of his life as a nomad. All of these songs are written with a certain maturity that can only come from someone that has lived the lifestyle, but none are as revealing as “Shadow Man”. This is the song that closes the EP, and it’s one that might leave you in tears. It runs a mere two minutes and twenty-one seconds but it’s one that will live with you for a lifetime if you let it. It’s a song that isn’t for everyone, but those that it speaks to will be genuinely moved by it. The simple and raw vulnerability of it is chilling.

Look for Brandon Reid Allen to gain respect from the music industry and his peers. His talent as a singer and a guitarist will open a lot of doors for him, but it’s his honesty and integrity in his songwriting that will be that beat up block of wood that holds that door open.



Living Within The Boxcar: 
The Brandon Reid Allen Interview

Brandon Reid Allen is a man that's seen beauty and success, and he's also experienced ugliness and misfortune. He's been all around the country and lived on its streets, and he lives to tell his stories through song and conversations like this.

Listen to Brandon talk about his latest Boxcar Junkies EP, Est. 1973, his organization to help the people on the street, and the one record that gets him going every morning.


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