Dan Israel / Dan Israel & the Cultivators

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Dan Israel & the Cultivators' debut album shows promise for this Minneapolis Americana band. The songs aren't as catchy as on the 1999 follow-up Mama's Kitchen, when this incarnation of the band's lineup would reach its peak. Still, there are a number of good tracks. The inclusion of fellow Minneapolis singer/songwriter Kristin Mooney on backup vocals on tunes like the title track and "Heading Out to the Sea" brings a welcome element of male-female harmony. Other highlights include the good-time country jamboree sound of "Climb That Mountain" and the straight-ahead rock of "Standing in Your Way," while guitarist Tom Sampson makes a solid contribution with his song "Better Days," on which he takes lead vocals. However, it is preferable to listen to Mama's Kitchen to get a better introduction to the sound of Dan Israel & the Cultivators.

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