The Sweetwater Hillbillies, On the Road (Merrimack Records)

These hillbillies are from the butt end of Appalachia, good old Muscle Shoals, Alabama, land of Southern-rock swampers and deep-soul legends, and it’s admirable that this expanded all-star assemblage has decided to flex by taking on every single musical stream flowing through the region—not just the above but also Memphis blues, Western Swing, and straight bluegrass. It’s basically a collection of resumes from industry session vets, the most impressive of which belongs to guitar legend Travis Wammack, a FAME studios vet who played on everything from Clarence Carter’s “Patches” to the Osmonds’ “One Bad Apple.”

That they can’t ultimately tie this exhaustive array of Southern Americana together is no crime, but they’re demonstrably better at handling the country stuff—most of their rock and blues forays come off as shallow and fundamentally silly as tourism commercials. The titular pun of “I Get Psyched About Motorcycles” is about as deep as it gets here, although they get off a good hook once in a while, i.e., “I’m a vagabond, I’m a gypsy / I’m a hobo, pass the whiskey.”

It’s an amazing collection of talent looking, mostly in vain, for a place to apply itself, and so the musicianship is as superb as you’d expect: Elvin Bishop pianist S.E. Willis, in particular, can transmogrify into Floyd Cramer, Johnnie Johnson, or Jerry Lee Lewis. Honoring your roots isn’t enough unless you bring something new to the table, however. As it is, the time-out-of-mind rhymes of the ancient traditional “Mountain Dew” are better than any of these copyrights: “I’ll hush up my mug / if you fill up my jug.” You can bet they tear it up live, though.