The Devil Makes Three - I'm a Stranger Here
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I'm a Stranger Here (New West, 2013)

The Devil Makes Three

Reviewed by Rick Bell

Pulling off Depression-era roots music isn't necessarily anything new, but making an album of it compelling without sounding corny, clichéd or simply boring isn't easy. Give The Devil Makes Three a ton of credit for doing it with both feet in the past - yet firmly cemented in the present. The album art complete with old appliances including a $15.90-cent record player sets the tone, and the 10 songs within are gems no matter what the era. Guided by Buddy Miller's wizened hand in the production chair at Black Keyes' member Dan Auerbach's Nashville studio, the fourth disc from the Vermont trio is a modern-day treat.

Driven by Pete Bernhard's vocals and pounding guitar and guest Casey Driessen's hard-driving fiddle, "Dead Body Moving" is more like a freight train loaded with hobos barreling down the tracks. Driessen's joyful fiddling kicks off and continues to romp through the clever "Spinning Like a Top." "Goodbye Old Friend" is a haunting, stripped-down Everly Brothers-esque tribute, while "Forty Days," with strumming banjo, Lucia Turino's high harmonies and Preservation Hall Jazz Band horns sounds like it's right off of a scratchy 78 RPM record.

"Hand Back Down" is really the lone departure from the acoustic vibe, as Miller's trademark guitar work flows throughout.

Though the album lives in Depression era stylings, The Devil Makes Three bend their genres as well as the strings of their instruments. A little ragtime, some bluegrass, blues and just enough new-timey folk make a fun listen. A $15 Gramophone's not required, but it wouldn't hurt the vibe, either.

CDs by The Devil Makes Three

Redemption & Ruin, 2016 I'm a Stranger Here, 2013

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