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Marti Brom

Heartache Numbers – 2005 (Goofin')

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Marti Brom

Marti Brom, the best unknown country singer in America, has fashioned a remarkably satisfying honky-tonk theme album. Produced by Justin Trevino, the 13-song set (plus 1 truly fine ghost track) is drenched with brilliantly executed fiddle and pedal steel, reminiscent of Ray Price's early era.

Basically an album of covers, each selection features a number in the title that corresponds with its track designation and each captures the cathartic country poetry that often emerges from a broken heart. Drinking songs get their due with such chestnuts as "Eight Weeks in a Barroom," "Alone at a Table for Two," and the Bakersfield-era classic "A-11." Divorce and loneliness la "Ten Minutes Until Heartaches" and "Seven Lonely Days," conjure images of a torch-singer minutes away from a tearful meltdown.

Brom's ability to employ Patsy Cline's vibrato ("The Twelfth of Never") and Tammy Wynette's finger-wagging sass ("Whiskey Six Years Old") and catch-note despair ("Apartment #9"), provides emotional touchstones rare in today's music. Moreover, the singer's sensual-to-the-bone approach allows her to perform both rockabilly ("Three Hearts Later") and a classic execution song ("Thirteen Steps Away") as if they were heart-stopping romantic recollections. Independent label country doesn't get much better than this.