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Album Review

Wilson St.

Country is evidently the new Pop. I've resisted it long enough. Nashville has reached its tendrils into as many areas of music they can without offending its conservative core and these days, if you have the hooks and the sound and you don't go there, it's a mistake.

I mention this because that is exactly where Charlie Faye belongs. Wilson St. has the same feel and punch of artists like Martina McBride and Sara Evans and, to a lesser extent, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. Voice, phrasing, delivery--- it's all there, and thanks to Mark Hallman at Congress House Studio in Austin, so is the sound. Country? Not really. Modern country (without twang)? Most definitely.

The proof is in the groove. The first hearing uncovered nothing new, but subsequent bouts peeled back bias (face it, we all have it) and discovered a collection of simple, very unpretentious songs of exceptionally high caliber. Some are rockin' in a buoyant way (Bottletops is what we used to call AM--- for AM radio-ready--- and Runaround has hooks enough to have made it a hit in all of the decades I've been listening to music, '50s to present), Jersey Pride just plain rocks (the instrumental bridge with its power pop guitar riffs has that made-to-groove feel), and Waitin' On Something is loneliness without the angst.

My favorite, though, is Summer Legs, with its choogling beat and catchy chord changes, but mainly its chorus of ?uh, huh? and the drop to male vocal (?if you must be lonely... be lonely alone?--- a verbal hook if I've ever heard one) backed with ethereal female background harmony (?save me?). Call it rocking tear-jerker or anything you want, it tugs at the heart with a beat.

If you have to point to one thing which sets apart (and she does many things well), it has to be songwriting. Faye has an innate ability to wrap melody and harmony in a brown paper bag and make you hear gourmet. Not frou-frou and not fancy, just good and tasty. Next church social, I'm finding out which box is hers and bidding on it in earnest.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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