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Atlanta Georgia based band, husband and wife duo Lauren Staley and Jason Morrow and band mates throw a wide enough loop to ensure their brand of Americana country music remains sounding fresh throughout.

On pushing the boundaries of the latter lead singer Staley gets to show off a number of sides to her vocal ability. For you have honky tonk barroom fare (“Dead Ringer”) and with banjo, fiddle and guitar licks going at it like crazy “Paris” is a big, fun-loving hoe-down number. When it comes to them covering a couple of golden oldies, Merle Haggard’s “Kern River” and Rosanne Cash’s “Seven Year Ache” gain inclusion, while sounding as if bouncing along like a pickup truck off down a bumpy country road “Martha From Marfa” has a neat energy run through it. Likewise can be aid of go for broke title cut “Dead Ringer”; plied in fiddle, banjo, electric lead guitar and bustling rhythm section Staley enjoys fantastic support. While she knocked me sideways on “Looking For Trouble”, this as she produces a measure heartfelt country ballad. 

Ever mixing up the themes and tempo, and on occasion’s style of music The Whiskey Gentry set themselves aside from most other bands performing the genre. Never more so is the case than when they cook up a storm on piano, banjo, upright bass and mandolin propelled “Rock & Roll Band”. Staley’s vibrant tones supported by a band consisting of her husband Jason Morrow, guitar, vocals, Sam Griffin (bass), Chesley Lowe (banjo, accordion), Rurik Nunan (fiddle, vocals), Les Hall (piano, Hammond, wurlitzer, acoustic, additional electric guitar, percussion) and Michael Smith, these guys can really play. Getting back to the Haggard cover she does a mighty fine job, the intonation in her voice and the general arrangement is top drawer; likewise goes for her seamless interpretation of “Seven Year Ache”. Be sure to check out the band's website for other covers. 

Recorded together, live in the same room in Asheville, North Carolina the Les Hall produced Dead Ringer follows the band's full-length releases Please Make Welcome (2011) and Holly Grave (2013). One of the biggest songs is the vibrant “Drinking Again” (it’s the kind of song Kelly Willis might have recorded) and with the diversity of her stretched into slow, pure as Tennessee moonshine Staley nails the beautiful understated ballad “If You Were An Astronaut” in magnificent fashion (it is one of those songs to have the listener hang onto every note). A joy to behold that’s for sure! 


                                                           Maurice Hope 

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May 2018

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