Cheri Knight

The Northeast Kingdom

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Although Knight is sometimes classified as something of a maverick modern country artist, her sound is too eclectic to be categorized as country. It's better thought of, perhaps, as extremely ambitious, smart mainstream pop with a lot of indie rock and country elements. If this is the direction country or Nashville might go in (it was produced in Nashville and features Steve Earle on guitar throughout), one can only applaud heartily. On this album, she's developed into a really fine singer/songwriter whose compositions and throaty vocal delivery project a wise weariness. The sound is quite varied by either country or rock standards, from the near-Celtic drone of "Dar Glasgow" and the Byrdsy jangle of "Rose in the Vine" to the Appalachian pluck of "The Hatfield Side" and "Crawling" (one of a couple tunes with Emmylou Harris on backup vocals). Both "Crawling" and "Northeast Kingdom" are particular standouts, compelling songs of troubled relationships with fresh lyrical twists, and with enough hooks to grab rock and pop ears; "White Lies," on the other hand, is an upbeat number that has the makings of a modern honky tonk classic.

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