The Black Lillies' 'Runaway Freeway Blues' - Album Review - OurVinyl
the black lillies runaway freeway blues

The Black Lillies’ ‘Runaway Freeway Blues’ – Album Review

Album Reviews

Released March 26th Runaway Freeway Blues is the 3rd EP released from the Knoxville, Tennessee based alt country/Americana group the Black Lillies. Following up the critically acclaimed 100 Miles of Wreckage in 2011, the band weaves tales of road travels, amalgamated characters and blows the dust off some great mythologized themes and stories to comprise an 11 track album that hits like an electrified back porch lullaby.

the black lillies runaway freeway bluesIf much of the material written for Runaway Freeway Blues was taken from the road, then the band surely had a wealth of content to draw from, as they have been active this past year. Touring hard from coast to coast and frequenting the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, the Black Lillies are on a steady rise using their transcendent sound to pull in non-traditional country and rock fans as they go. Runaway Freeway Blues showcases this truly unique sound and talent from band members Cruz Contreras (guitar, vocals, piano), Jamie Cook (percussion), Trisha Gene Brady (vocals), Tom Pryor (guitar/pedal steel) and Robert Richards (bass).

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a premiere piece on Runaway Freeway Blues in their “Speakeasy” section of the online periodical. In addition, Ann Powers of NPR featured The Black Lillies Thursday night set at South by Southwest as one of the highlights of the entire festival. Things are clearly happening for this Knoxville-based group and Runaway Freeway Blues is yet another springboard for the Black Lillies playing to more people, in larger venues throughout the country and beyond.

Beginning with a much anticipated appearance at the Grand Ole Opry March 29th, the band then kicks the tour into a higher gear as they perform 20 dates in the month of April throughout the south before heading to the Midwest and ultimately the west coast. The band is still playing smaller clubs at theaters at this point, but that might prove to be temporary as more people are exposed and literally more noise is generated.

If you have read this far, and still haven’t queued up Runaway Freeway Blues, go to track #6 “Catherine”, a tale of a World War II bombing run and the reflections of a soldier on life and its’ fragility during wartime. Clearly the hook song of the album, “Catherine” reflects the timeless songwriting and vast content Cruz Contreras draws upon in his songwriting.

the black lillies runaway freeway bluesAnother absolute gem on this album is track #2 “Gold and Roses”. The song starts out very similarly to Ryan Bingham’s “Southside of Heaven”, but quickly averts from that as it establishes itself as a story of westward expansion, love and the gold rushes that littered the west in the 19th and early 20th century.

All of the songs on this remarkably unique album tell incredible stories, none of which more than track #10 “Baby Doe”. Naturally there’s some bias (I’m a Coloradan), but to hear a Tennessee based music outfit retelling the story of the silver struck socialite Baby Doe Tabor is something everyone has to hear. This song, like the majority of Runaway Freeway Blues, tells visceral, image-laden stories that take you to a place, or a time or a back to a time and place.

From their debut release Whiskey Angel to 100 Miles of Wreckage to the recent release of Runaway Freeway Blues, the Black Lillies feel like a band that would come pouring out of an old Bush radio as you sit in a rocking chair with an old coon hound passed out next you. Although it sounds colloquial in its imagery, the songs this band is writing are songs take you to places like this and beyond. Alt country/Americana does do justice to the Black Lillies. How about image thick, historically encompassing time piece, genre blurring sounds of America?

Written by Allen Byrne

OurVinyl | Contributor


Black Lillies 2013 Tour:

Grand Ole Opry

Friday, March 29, 2013 at 7:00pm in CDT

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, TN

Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 9:30pm in CDT

3rd & Lindsley

Lexington, KY

Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT

Willie’s Locally Known

River Roots in Madison, IN!

Friday, April 5, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT

Historic Broadway Tavern

Peoria, IL

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Outpost in Armington

Bowling Green, KY

Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 8:00pm in CDT

The Warehouse at Mt. Victor

Athens, GA – with special guests James Justin & Co.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 7:30pm in EDT

The Melting Point

Decatur, GA

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 7:30pm in EDT

Eddie’s Attic

String Break Festival, Brooksville, FL

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sertoma Youth Ranch

Orlando, FL

Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT


West Palm Beach, FL

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 7:00pm in EDT

TBA – West Palm Beach

Key West, FL

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Green Parrot

Saint Augustine, FL

Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 9:00pm in EDT

Cafe Eleven

Montgomery, AL

Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 7:00pm in CDT

Kiwanis Park

Cruz Contreras on Songcraft Live!

Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT

High Rock Outfitters


Friday, April 26, 2013

Wilkes Community College

Rock Island, IL

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 8:00pm in CDT

Rozz-Tox QC

Muscatine, IA

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 7:30pm in CDT

House Concert

Des Moines

Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 8:00pm in CDT

Gas Lamp

Kearney, NE

Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 9:30pm in CDT

The Garage

Boise, ID

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 8:00pm

Reef Boise

Bend, OR

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

McMenamins Old St. Francis School

Portland, OR

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kennedy School

McMinnville, OR

Saturday, May 11, 2013

McMenamins Hotel Oregon

Portland, OR

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 7:00pm in EDT

McMenamins Chrystal Ballroom

Centralia, WA

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

McMenamins Olympic Club

Seattle, WA

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 8:00pm in PDT

The Triple Door

Troutdale, OR

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Edgefield Winery

Bainbridge Isle, WA

Friday, May 17, 2013

Treehouse Café

Sunbanks Rhythm & Blues Festival

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunbanks Music Festival

Hood River, OR

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 6:00pm in PDT

Springhouse Cellar Winery

Eugene, OR

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Cedarville, CA

Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 7:00pm in PDT

The Station

Strawberry Music Festival

Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 11:30am in PDT

The Strawberry Music Festival

Chico, CA

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 8:00pm in PDT

Sierra Nevada

Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass Festival

Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 3:00pm

Pagosa Springs, CO

Berwyn, IL

Friday, June 14, 2013 at 9:30pm in CDT

FitzGerald’s Nightclub

Columbus, OH

Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT

Woodlands Tavern

Thomas, WV

Friday, June 21, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT

The Purple Fiddle

Washington, DC

Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT

The Hamilton

Buffalo, NY

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 8:00pm in EDT

Sportsmans Tavern