Hailing from Kansas City, Rex and his crew throw some serious chops and a few new variations on the theme of heartbreak into Empty House, their fourth CD. Honky-tonk hero Johnny Paycheck's "It Won't Be Long (And I'll Be Hating You)" is given a big, cosmic weepy rendering that would make the Sadies--or Gram Parsons--proud. Guitar player J.B. Morris (outstanding from start to finish) rips sharp leads throughout "I Don't Like That Mirror" that recall the Long Ryders. Rex sings in a fine, steady if unspectacular twangy tenor, and the Misery Boys nail all the right moves with finesse and grace. Although the songs may be drenched in loss and regret, Rex sings with a subtle nod and a wink, a sly indicator that maybe things really aren't all that bad. If you're a fan of folks named Merle and Buck, this one's for you.