Moonshine Willy - Bastard Child
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Bastard Child (Bloodshot, 1998)

Moonshine Willy

Reviewed by Brian Baker

Precious few bands live up to the overworked tag of alternative country. Many are merely alternative bands that slap a pedal steel in the mix to approximate that fresh country veneer. Moonshine Willy is decidedly not one of those pretenders, as they demand the label and make it irrelevant all at once.

Moonshine Willy's trump card is played up front, in the wildly talented Kim Docter, who handles lead vocals, guitar and writes the amazing songs. Docter's slightly whiskey-tinged vocals invoke images of Cheri Knight, or an Americanized Kirsty MacColl, and the songwriting range represented between the two is Docter's stylistic comfort zone. The rest of Moonshine Willy create the perfect bed for Docter to lay downon seductively or to jump up and down on like a hyperactive 4-year-old. They can lean toward authentic bluegrass, or tread the ground hallowed by Rank and File back when "cowpunk" was the term to either live up to or live down. Rachel Ferro's violin and George Uchida's lead guitar are either dream or demon, depending on context.

With their third album, Moonshine Willy's evolution continues sharply upward. Their pop/country duality is exemplified in their brilliantly twitchy take on the Human League's "Don't You Want Me," where they manage to give the innocuous pop song a manic, but dark, country edge. But it's Docter's originals that ultimately give this Willy the shine.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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