Hillbilly Jedi

by: Big & Rich

After 2007's Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace, Big & Rich took a five-year hiatus, Big Kenny releasing one weird solo album in 2009 and John Rich working harder on his career following his own 2009 solo venture with a pair of EPs and a role on Celebrity Apprentice. Once that petered out, it was time for the inevitable reunion, the pair returning in the fall of 2012 with Hillbilly Jedi, a record that valiantly attempts to revive their good old shtick, largely through several collaborations with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. The pairing of the two duos makes some sense: Big & Rich were always arena rockers at heart and Bon Jovi made his crossover into country during the new millennium. Bon Jovi and Sambora don't change much in the world of Big & Rich. Kenny and John still favor sentimental ballads and self-aggrandizing country hip-hop that's been their stock in trade since "Save a Horse," even finding space for two cameos from Cowboy Troy. If there's no longer a sense of surprise in Big & Rich's shtick, the duo has compensated with a keen sense of professionalism; they're doing their act and doing it as well as they know how to do. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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