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A Divorcement of Purpose

Divorcement. Divorce. Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees sing about it on a universal and human scale (along with a few other subjects of interest), overlapping generations and whole eras without a blink of an eye. With one foot planted in the present and the other in classic 50s country & western, they toss political correctness out the window with the drained beer can (a real country boy knows better than to waste beer, even if it is green) and drag the past, kicking and screaming, into the moment. Ghosts of Hank Williams, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Lefty Frizzell and a handful of other country and pop greats hover over every song these guys play, until one can smell the cigarette smoke and the stale whiskey and beer and the very fabric of ?the life.? Life in the fifties wasn't all coal mines and logging and steel mills and oil wells. It was life and love and family and, bottom line, survival. That is what most modern country performers miss. Most wouldn't know how to survive without a contract and an agent. To them, handling heartbreak is talking to a shrink.

Of course, if you take a listen to some of Waive's songs, you might think he needed a shrink. Case in point: Why I Hunt from his Strike a Match album. It isn't politically incorrect. It is off the map. In a weird Hank Williams twist, Waive handles infidelity with a gun. ?That's why I thank Heaven for God's creatures,? he wails, ?They kept me out of jail, You see, I mighta gone and shot my loved one, but instead I go huntin' for white tail.? (That's deer, for you city folk). It makes me smile (and I apologize for it) because it encapsulates so much of the culture in which I grew up. No, every pickup did not have a gun rack--- well, not until I was in high school, anyways.

Every track on the album brings back a bit of my childhood, in fact. Fool could be a lost Lefty Frizzell classic, Since You Been Gone has early Ferlin Husky touches, Crooked Man mixes mountain and country & western. The album is chock full of a bygone era not brought successfully to the present outside of the likes of, say, Steve Young.

Of course, one should not be surprised. Waive is a monster songwriter and a smart man. He brings the best of Charlottesville onto the stage with him: Charlie Bell, one of the most respected and sought after session dobro and pedal steel players around; Jen Fleisher, a knockout ball of energy who tosses the bull fiddle around like a violin in spite of her slight frame; Anna Matijasic, who plays fiddle and violin and who knows the difference. It is a daunting crew--- a masterful group. Waive would gain credibility from having them in the audience, not just on the stage.

I have a friend who always says you can tell a good man by the music he plays or listens to. If that is true, Jim Waive is a good man because what he plays and how he plays it (not to mention who he plays it with) is a stride above. Do yourself a favor and check these guys out. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Jim Waive & the Young Divorcees!!

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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