The Blacks - Dolly Horrorshow
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Dolly Horrorshow (Bloodshot, 1998)

The Blacks

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

Don't listen to this to find a direction for the alternative country movement. Why? Because this record has no direction. It seems that every song is being pulled in multiple genre-related directions at the same time. While other bands might not be able to pull the whole thing together and emerge with any kind of signature sound, The Blacks have no such problem. A couple of times through, and you'll recognize any of the songs after hearing only a couple of bars.

It is possible to find country elements for sure, but there even more jazz and blues signatures and even some rock and punk overtones added, often when you least expect it. The Chicagoans are merely a quartet consisting of Danny Black, James Emmenegger, Gina Black and Nora O'Connor. Often this material is brilliant, but even at is weakest moments it is never pedestrian. Most of the material is a testament to the unexpectedly inspired.

If there is a downside it is in the song arrangements. The listener is nearly halfway through the disc before being made aware of the female vocalists. It is at that point that the disc truly soars. The title cut, "Tortured Holiday" and "Crazy" are as fine an end-to-end-to-end package as has come down the pike in a while. For those who paint even this renegade genre of country with a thin brush, stay away at all costs. But the adventurous will likely find great listening pleasure.




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