Lullaby for the Working Class

Blanket Warm

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Slowly crafted between 1994 and 1996, the debut album by Lullaby for the Working Class could be easily categorized along with the alt-country of Palace and Wilco that developed around the same time. And while the Nebraskan foursome certainly base their sound in the same acoustic Americana of these other bands, their extensive use of classical arrangements and chamber instruments gives Blanket Warm a gilded edge over its peers.

The hollow strumming on "Good Morning" builds to a crescendo with drums and violin that continues higher on "Honey, Drop the Knife." The group's pop-writing skills are displayed prominently on "Boar's Nest" and "Rye," while the lilting textures of "Eskimo Song Duet" and "Turpentine" show an equal ability to drop conventional arrangements and melodies in favor of mood and, in the case of the latter, which ends with the albums single histrionic outburst of voices which create an incredible impact.

Singer Ted Stevens approaches his vocals with a Midwestern neutrality that is mercifully free of hillbilly affect. In fact, Lullaby for the Working Class never resorts to any of the down-home clich├ęs so often found in new roots music. Instead, the group achieves a majestic sophistication that is akin to finding a Faberge egg in the middle of a cornfield.

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