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Blue Mountain
 Dog Days, Roadrunner CD RR8940-2, 1995

The genuine article, cut from Oxford cloth

It's nice to know that justice occasionally prevails in the music business, that art is not always victim to commerce. Take a talented husband and wife duo (Cary Hudson on guitar/mandolin/vocals and Laurie Stirratt on bass/vocals) from Oxford, Mississippi, send them to L.A. to seek their fortune, and what usually happens? In this case, they spend a disillusioning year-but don't sell out-move back to Oxford, pick up a drummer (Frank Coutch), and sign a record deal with major distribution for the release of Dog Days. Cool.

Blue Mountain mine the same laidback country-folk-rock sound that is prompting indie bands the nation over to affect drawls and add country influences to their music, thanks to the success of the "No Depression" movement, led by the likes of Son Volt, Wilco, and the Jayhawks. (Not that we're against the trend, understand. A twang will beat a whine six hands out of seven.) Of course, playing this type of music is not as easy as putting on a beat-up hat and hiring a steel guitar player, and one listen to Blue Mountain will tell you that they're the genuine article.

Hudson's unassuming Delta twang is perfectly suited to a high and lonesome acoustic ballad. "Eyes of a Child" and "Mountain Girl" are relaxed tunes that reminisce about the simple joys of rural life. Direct and simple, they include beatific country harmonies and wheezing harmonica, but also have enough rough edges to keep them interesting. Elsewhere, Blue Mountain pays folksy homage to fellow southerners Elvis Presley ("Epitaph") and Jimmy Carter ("Jimmy Carter") without getting too sentimental.

Beneath its friendly veneer, Dog Days also has plenty of bite. Reprising Neil Young's riff from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio," "Let's Ride" perfectly captures the willful abandon and promise of the open road. The chugging "Hippy Hotel" features chicken pickin' guitars and poignant lyrics that lament land developers who are tearing down a decrepit hotel ("When they clear away the wreck/They're going to raise the roof on a discotheque/Mirror balls and woofers cranked to 10"). "Soul Sister" has some Outlaws-style (you heard right) guitar work and tells a tale of lost young love. The wistful "Let's Go Runnin'" features bluesy slide work and forlorn lyrics ("Have you ever had a stranger/On the corner of your bed?").

With strong melodic skills, sure-handed lyrics, and fine instrumental interplay, Dog Days is a good choice to get you through them lazy summer afternoons. -  Scott Boggan

production notes

Cary Hudson, guitar, harmonica, vocals; Laurie Stirrat, bass; Frank Coutch, drums.

Produced by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel.

Copyright © 1996 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.