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Marti Brom and Her Barnshakers

Snake Ranch – 1999 (Goofin')

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Marti Brom and Her Barnshakers

Austin rockabilly vocalist Marti Brom's career over the past decade has proceeded in fits and starts mainly because of her emphasis on family over career. However, over the past couple of years, Brom's releases have come far more regularly, particularly with 1998's "Mean!" and this year's "Lassooed Live." And thankfully so.

Backed this time by Finnish rockabilly outfit the Barnshakers (with Austin pianist T Jarrod Bonta along for the ride), Brom reminds listeners why she is, quite simply, the finest female rockabilly vocalist of her generation. Kicking things off with "Blue Tattoo," a top-drawer Ray Price-type shuffle, Brom and the Barnshakers deliver a mixture of hillbilly ("This Is Love, Not Liquor"), traditional country ("You Put It There"), rockabilly (a ferocious cover of Joyce Green's "Black Cadillac") and even a couple of torch songs in the tradition of Patsy Cline ("Lovesick Clown" and "Cry to Me Baby"), to whom Brom is probably most frequently compared.

The fact is that she's so far ahead of her contemporaries that it's harder and harder to see her limiting herself to an inherently limited format such as rockabilly. The trick in the future is going to be in focusing on a direction that will put her on the path to the career album that she clearly has in her. (Goofin' USA, Box 160011, Austin, TX 78716)