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Eric Hisaw

The Crosses – 2006 (Saustex)

Reviewed by Dawn Pomento

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CDs by Eric Hisaw

Austin-based musician Eric Hisaw knows how to write hooks. After listening to this straight through, a couple of lines are bound to linger in one's head. The choruses stick, but the verses prove there's much more to this singer-songwriter than catchy riffs.

"Peggy," the opening track, is a fine example of Hisaw's storytelling ability. It's a tale that's almost painful to contemplate because it's so familiar. Hisaw uses plain words and spare details to paint a vivid portrait of a woman with a history of bad life-choices, who unexpectedly visits her long-suffering family. It's not a CD for wild parties, but for the most part the music buoys up the more somber lyrics.

Hisaw grew up in Las Cruces, N.M., and all of the songs on this, his third, piece together the universal small town experience. The 11 originals are complimented by a cover of Taj Mahal and Jesse Ed Davis' "Farther on Down the Road." Hisaw's take on that classic forgoes the jaunty harmonica for a slower, more romantic path - which suits Hisaw's low, husky voice. Hisaw plays guitar and he gathered strong musicians to provide piano, pedal steel and accordion. John Stark supplies back-up vocals on half the tracks, but the absence of any female harmony is tangible and curious. It's the only slight disappointment on an otherwise satisfying release. (Box 691356, San Antonio, TX 78269-1356, 210-745-1418)