The Backsliders

Southern Lines

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Produced by Eric Ambel, and with a track by Don Dixon/Mitch Easter, the Backsliders' recording comeback is strong. Singer/songwriter Chip Robinson, a trailer park denizen from Raleigh, NC, had an auspicious early-'90s debut before he got sidelined after his band went up in smoke. He bears a slight vocal resemblance and songwriting style to Steve Earle; the hard country roots are what drive the songs about small towns and lost love, and just like Earle, it's easy to take Robinson's bits of broken imagery and well-worn trails as gospel. But it's the classic and acoustic ballads ("It Rained on Monday," and the hidden songs that end the set) which set Robinson apart from the pack of contemporary Southern rockers.

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