Miss Derringer


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Even though more than half of Miss Derringer's lineup changed between their debut album and its follow-up Lullabies (and featured Blondie's Clem Burke and Charley Horse's Rick Ballard), the band's sound and aesthetic remain largely the same. Phil Spector, Patsy Cline, murder ballads, Lee Hazlewood, and Nancy Sinatra duets and -- above all -- drinking are still some of Miss Derringer's favorite things. Liz McGrath's sweetly raspy voice still makes her a world-weary, deceptively innocent femme fatale and a fitting muse for songwriter (and her husband) Morgan Slade, who still pens songs with lyrics that could have been pulled from pulp novels or B-movie posters from the '50s. On Lullabies, however, the band takes its music and obsessions with crime, heartache, and death in a more polished, overtly theatrical direction than it did on King James, Crown Royal and a Colt 45. Miss Derringer lovingly sends up girl group pop on "Don't Say (I Told You So)" and "Death Car Ride," which is also an homage to all of those teen tragedy songs from the early '60s (lyrics don't get more pointed than "It's in the way he kissed/It's in the way he died"). "Amor y Armas" is a showy, south-of-the-border story of, well, love and guns, while Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' "People Ain't No Good" is retooled into a charmingly misanthropic piece of noir country-pop. Whenever it seems that Lullabies is too clever for its own good, Miss Derringer knows when to reel in the irony. "Better Run Away from Me" crackles with real intensity; there's genuine sweetness at the bottom of the barfly duet "Tonight I've Got a Bottle"; and, aptly enough, "Lullaby" closes the album on an eerily lovely note. Lullabies finds Miss Derringer coming into its own, serving up another round of rainy day, late-night, tear-in-your-beer music with a few winks for good measure.

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