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the penultimate One Left In The Chamber were co-written with Texas singer- songwriter Matthew H. Skinner. Vocally, Lund sounds not unlike Tom Russell on the latter. The opening shot of this opus Gettin’

Down On The Mountain finds the backwoods narrator contemplate a time ‘when the oil stops.’ Come September, she was seduced by the concrete glamour of New York City leaving the (song’s) narrator to muse about what might have been, whilst he tends his ‘thousand acres’ with ‘the Rocky Mountains’ as a backdrop. Corb pays tribute at ‘ninety miles an hour on my German motorcycle’ in Mein Deutsches Motorrad, and indulges in western swing, with the ensuing and lyrically light Cows Around. Lund’s latest alcohol themed anthems arrive in the shape of Drink It Like You Mean It and album closer Pour ‘Em Kinda Strong. Replete with Lund’s introductory yodel Priceless Antique Pistol Shoots Startled Owner features a priceless artefact that ‘leaves you just as dead.’ In the album’s principle sore thumb, Corb adopts a rockabilly stance as he casts a backward glance to his speed metal/punk band days with The Gothest Girl I Can. Arthur Wood

Jenee Halstead RAISED BY WOLVES Self-Released HHHH Stunningly enigmatic 11-track release from east Washington’s creative songstress Growing up in the high desert of

Spokane, east Washington, Jenee’s hippie parents allowed her to find her own direction in life and to dapple in creativity, and her latest release, RAISED BY WOLVES— which she has dedicated to her mother, Kathy Halstead—seems to be a product of that creative freedom. On the surface, it sounds like a pop record, with a beat box spine. Delve a little deeper, however and there’s a wonderfully sprung riverbed of acoustically fused and fetchingly alternative sounds that complement perfectly her haunting and sultry toned vocals, telling poignant and personal stories along the way. Like her 2008 debut of THE RIVER

GRACE, this third release was produced by multi-instrumentalist, Evan Brubaker

(Rachel Harrington & The Knockouts; Edie Carey)—both he and Jenee co-wrote nine of the eleven tracks, after scrapping most of the previous for something a little more wild and favourable—and features the instrumental efforts of Danny Barnes (banjo), Joel Litwin (drums) and Colby Sanders (flobro) as well as Evan Brubaker on a monumental nine instruments, including mandolin, tenor guitar and mellotron. The sultry and darkly composed

Havana Dress cracks open proceedings, grabbing attention from its ominous beat box-led opening, whilst the mid- temp, skippy existence of Rodeo Of Sadness simplistically follows on, raw and textured by impressively played stringed sounds, yet cloaked in mystery. One of three favourites of mine on the album includes the infectious, guitar-led So Far So Fast—memorable, inspirational and musically rich with sounds, it’s roped with hit potential; Jenee’s vocals fittingly spot on—and the ambiently bubbling Never Another, inspired by American singer- songwriter, Elliott Smith’s last moments provides another; Jenee’s vocals taking on a more contemporary tone. Equally so, the beautifully sung title track Raised By Wolves, for me, oozes spiritual wonderment, imagination and beauty and easily provides the record with a highlight. Stunningly closing the album is the gently progressive River Of Doubt, which seems to call upon her childhood memories of nature; the memorable chordal patterns and vibrantly musical backdrop drawing the album to a climatic close. For those who like a voice packed with

an emotional charge, yet soft on the ears, as well as mesmerically told stories a little on the enigmatic side, then Jenee Halstead—made of utterly raw, singer- songwriting talent—will take you on an immensely enjoyable journey. Emily Saxton

Grace Pettis TWO BIRDS Blue Rock Artists HHHHH If you purchase only one album this year, TWO BIRDS is absolutely it! Grace Pettis is a twenty-something troubadour who traverses the highways

and byways of our planet, earning tens of dollars annually, dispensing to those who listen to her magical musical elixir. There’s a vast array of platitudes that illustrate the difficulties inherent in fashioning a sophomore recording. Grace’s TWO BIRDS has resourcefully cleared that hurdle and then some. The essence of this collection, and for that matter Pettis’ past, present and future canon, is encapsulated by the TWO BIRDS lines: ‘And this dream that I am after, it won’t leave me alone.’ We listeners are the privileged beneficiaries of Grace’s unbending reverie. Recorded at Blue Rock Studio in

Wimberley, Texas (as was her 2009 debut) Pettis is supported throughout this lyrically poetic, folk-rock collection by a coterie of Austin’s finest players. Co-written with Colorado based singer-songwriter Megan Burt, the theme of leaving pervades Moving On, the urgently paced album opener, and the later Abilene. We learn in the second verse of the bittersweet latter that ‘Daddy he drinks, sometimes he gets mean; and Mama’s always been a timid little thing.’ The sixteen year-old narrator, named Abilene, finds herself trapped in a domestic arrangement, which she finds intolerable. Reason To Fall offers an invitation to

love; dedicated to her father, Pierce, Little Blue Bird is that rarity—an optimistic and engaging road song, whilst the second Burt co-write Murder Of Crows is a tale of dark Wild West deeds. At birth it was titled Yellow Apples. Renamed Lighthouse, this beacon of accomplished writing tips its cap to folk traditions then adds a contemporary twist. Launched by: ‘There was a maiden, loved a sailor’ and lasting almost six- minutes, the description stone classic vastly undersells it. Robby Hecht furnishes a fits-like-a-glove duet vocal on the self- explanatory, melodically divine Love You Staked Your Claim. Another epistle from the road, the narrator in the upbeat Edge Of The World reflects: ‘this is my life,’ one where resistance is futile: ‘And all for the music calling…calling me.’ The album closes with a trio of deeply

personal reflections. Many listeners will relate to Halley’s Comet which bears the credit—‘For my parents’. Halley’s Comet was last witnessed from Earth in 1986. Born the following year, Grace’s parents parted before her teens. An elegiac masterpiece Halley’s Comet is graced by countless stand-out lines including: ‘But they can’t blame me for longing for the

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