Digging You Up

Unlike old Country, with its complement of Lorettas, Bonnies and Emmylous, 'new' country is a guy thing....

Digging You Up

6 / 10 UNLIKE OLD COUNTRY, WITH ITS COMPLEMENT OF Lorettas, Bonnies and Emmylous, 'new' country is a guy thing. All that whiskey to sup, all those forsaken demi-loves to beat oneself up over on an Athens back porch... it's the sad, bad fellas calling the tunes. With the exception, that is, of Freakwater - and now Hazeldine, a three-quarters female troupe of lovelorn, road-dusted old twangers.

And while the very feminine stuff of perennial country greatness is here - lust, betrayal, vengeance, death - the mood on this record is pure Indigo Girls. Co-writers Shawn Barton and Tonya Lamm conjure up suitably wracked vignettes, but the dull AM radio production robs songs like 'Digging You Up' of their sick, funny impact. As though that weren't enough to douse your campfire, there's a Grant Lee Buffalo cover ('Fuzzy'), and a Lee Hazlewood retread ('Summer Wine') at the end, as if to remind who the masters of the genre are - ie, all the old dudes.

So nothing prepares you for the album's two dark epiphanies: 'Dead Love', whose moving near-necrophilia recalls Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee, and 'Pocket', a bittersweet, genuinely sensual come-on. Thanks to their disproportionate charms, this record is worth digging up. Only just.

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