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THE WHISKEY GENTRY—DEAD RINGER (Pitch-a-Tent Records)

 

www.thewhiskeygentry.com

 

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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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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