“As “Rock & Roll Dream,” the song premiering here demonstrates, Whelan’s music is thrown down with a deep streak of Holly’s luminous ebullience and a spicy twist of Chuck Berry’s elegantly tailored, meter-caressing lingua rocka, but the prickly message and slightly dog-eared delivery are Whelan’s alone.”

– Jonny Whiteside, LA Weekly | Read full review and watch music video

“Whelan, the youthful, brilliant, outspoken ex–Dwight Yoakam guitarist, is the guy. Unbeholden to anything except his own taste and instinct, both of which seem nigh on infallible, Whelan takes a free-thinking, hard-hitting, ideally realized approach to his music. It rocks hard, it digs deep, it’s redolent with that nearly lost, shimmering, Southwestern desert rapture common to Buckaroos guitarist Don Rich and West Texas paragon Buddy Holly. Whelan gives a damn and doesn’t hold back; he mixes it all up with an honest dynamism that’s his alone. His marvelous 2016 “Americana” went in for the kill: “You industry kids with your college wit/You’re a pretty nice guy but you sound like shit/You could change it if you really wanna/There is nothing wrong with Americana.” It’s a playful throwdown that represents not just a challenge but also, far more important, encouragement for his peers to take it further. And we all need a lot more of that.”

– Jonny Whiteside, LA Weekly

“The light/dark contrast opens his new album. “Americana” is a blistering condemnation of musical conformity and group think that has created a spike in big beards and banjo sales. Though barbed, the song carefully steers away from cynicism and into a celebration of what Whelan really loves: the early-American rock by guys like Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly that keep showing up in various places in popular music, whether it’s the Beatles, AC/DC, Marshall Crenshaw or Dwight Yoakam. He draws from the same rudiments that have been in place more than 60 years.”

-Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle

“Playing to warm Yoakam’s crowd, Whelan lit some fires of his own, utilizing lessons from his former boss mixed with those from a stint playing behind Chuck Berry, layered under a vocal style that recalls at times a young Roy Orbison, in the context of songs seemingly imagined by an iPhone-era Buddy Holly.”

-Philip Hopkins, No Depression

“There’s an underlying rootsiness to Whelan’s songs but he often steers them into interesting and hooky directions that reveal a deep historical affinity for thoughtful pop. He’s an expressive and versatile singer, able to touch on twang and stir in some soul. His is a sophisticated sort of power pop that nevertheless invites listeners to occasionally shake a leg.”


“With his second solo album, former Dwight Yoakam sideman Brian Whelan brings something new to today’s roots music scene. He plays the kind of music that made Chuck Berry stand up and duck walk, that made Buddy Holly turn around and hiccup with delight. He has caught the pulse of rock and roll celebration on Sugarland — it’s fresh and carries the kind of innocence that propelled Holly into the spotlight in the late 1950s.”

-Terry Paul Roland, No Depression