On the follow-up to 1989's Walkin' on the Moon, Katy Moffatt decided to crank up the volume a bit and let her hair down. Child Bride is anything but a delicate recording. It's closer to rockabilly and the woolly side of country than any singer/songwriter outing. Some of the musicians who appear here are Carlo Nuccio from the Continental Drifters, former Lone Justice guitar ace Marvin Etzioni (who wrote the title track and another one), guitarist Duane Jarvis, Dave Alvin, the late Donald Lindley, Pat McLaughlin, Greg Leisz, and Los Lobos' Steve Berlin, among others. This is a singer's effort; uncharacteristically, Moffatt didn't pen a track here, but in her readings of these songs, they become hers. From the rolling country rockabilly of the title track to her deep Memphis soul meets Nashville contemporary country reading of John Hiatt's "We Ran" to a loose-wristed rocking reading of Arthur Alexander's "You Better Move On," Moffatt digs deep into her cowboy angel alto and delivers with raucous passion and a gritty verve that's closer to Wanda Jackson than it is Tammy Wynette -- and that's only on side one. The second half opens with another Etzioni rocker, entitled "False Alarm," that pulls out the stops before Moffatt turns to a slower -- though not slow -- articulation of the Doc Pomus classic "Lonely Avenue." Pat McLaughlin's "You Done Me Wrong" is given classic rockabilly treatment, but it leans a lot heavier on honky tonk country than it does on rock. The set closes with the Wesley Rose classic "Settin' the Woods on Fire," so closely associated with Hank Williams. It's a duet with Dave Alvin and the feel is steaming honky tonk with a beautiful pair of guitars courtesy of Alvin and Richard Stekol. Juke Logan's harmonica break gives the track a serious blues edge before Leisz returns on Weissenborn slide guitar to anchor it back in the out-of-control Saturday midnight honky tonk country bus. Child Bride is easily the hardest-rocking record Katy Moffatt ever issued; it's also the closest to country music's heart.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek