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D. Braxton Harris

Contagious Heartache – 2004 (Nighttime)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by D. Braxton Harris

"The contents of this package can save your life," so proclaims the cover art for D.B. Harris' latest album. Well, maybe it doesn't have quite that much power, but you sure will have plenty of fun listening to "Contagious Heartache." In fact, just looking at the cover art, which is done like an advertisement for a vintage cure-all, is a blast.

But what about the music? It's just right. Harris has a little bit of Roy (Orbison) and Raul (Malo) in his voice, and he and his backing players put an energetic spin on a wide range of country, rockabilly and pop influences. "One More Time" has a Buck Owens vibe to it that shouldn't come as a surprise given that The Derailers' Brian Hofeldt co-wrote it with Harris.

"Love Don't Run," meanwhile, gives a nod to Morrissey and the Smiths while asking, "Was our love meant for a cemetery?" The rollicking opener "Girls Gone Wild!" is more fun than soft-core porn videos and "All By My Lonesome" has great flugel/trumpet action. Guests and players include former Best Kissers in the World frontman Gerald Collier, the most recent Maverick Eddie Perez and Susanna Van Tassel, who provides lovely harmony vocals on the album closing John T. Loudermilk ditty "Torture" - something Harris' brand of "Contagious Heartache" is anything but. ( E-Mail: db@nighttimeman.com, 4315 Hank Ave., Austin, TX 78745)