Deadman

Paramour

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There's a dreamlike quality to Deadman's Paramour, and a sense of hushed open space that makes them seem like an unlikely mating between American Music Club, Chris Isaak, and Mazzy Star. Stephen Collins is a writer with a sense of depth and history, which he demonstrates in "The Ballad of Padre Miguel" and "Three Murders." There's something ineffably Western (not to mention a taste of the Mexican border) about his compositions, a feel for the desert and open spaces that fill the West, without ever resorting to outlaw mythology. And in "Lonely Times" there are moments when he seems to conjure up America's best roots band, the Band, in the ruggedness of his words and melodies. And that leads fairly naturally to a cover of Paul Simon's "America," performed in hushed tones by Stephen and Sherilyn Collins before floating out some minutes later on the hidden ambient instrumental. In "The Pale Rider," "Rosa Marie," and "La Zapatista," Collins has created three of the best roots compositions in many years; it's hard to classify them as rock or country because they refuse to fall into any pigeonhole -- and the band fires quiet sparks throughout them, indeed on the entire album. A small masterpiece of Americana.

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