Dolly Varden

The Panic Bell

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

This band has been compared to artists like Lucinda Williams and Marshall Crenshaw for its deliberate blend of pop and alt country. This is quite apparent on the midtempo, pretty and powerful opener "Complete Resistance." Resistance to this particular song would be futile, as it instantly grows on the listener. It could go on for eight minutes with a lengthy guitar solo to fadeout, but it concludes in a rather tidy manner. From there Dolly Varden gallop headlong with the hi-hat tinted "Everything," which is also quite appealing. However, the band shows another facet when singer Diane Christiansen takes lead vocals for the tender "Small Pockets" which would be the perfect complement to Kathleen Edwards' track "Mercury." Just as precious is her delivery during the lovely "The Truth Be Told" that brings to mind Cowboy Junkies and an acoustic-leaning Sheryl Crow circa The Globe Sessions. The tandem of songwriter and singer Scott Dawson alongside Christiansen makes "You Never Will" a very sweet track that is over before one truly can appreciate it. Dolly Varden loosen up somewhat for the seven-minute, Springsteen-influenced nugget "Triumph Mine, Idaho" that builds slowly, and adds some harmonica in all the right places but drags slightly in the middle. It's rare that the words and music come together so perfectly, but that is the case with much of this record. "Your Last Mistake" is a comedown that seems to cement this album's high quality by an equally fine outfit.

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