Whether playing a heartbreak ballad like "It Takes Love," a boozy teardropper like "Jones Street," or a dance-floor slam like "I'm Not a Stealer," the Deadstring Brothers infuse muscle and saloon-sentimentality into each track of this debut. The country references are obvious, especially in Pete Ballard's keening steel, but overall this music feels more blue-collar than redneck. Their rough, somewhat haphazard harmonies, ambling grooves, and vaguely psychedelic leanings recall the Rolling Stones' country indulgences; Kurt Marschke even distends his vowels ("you" becomes "yewww on "For A Time") like a Jagger acolyte as the guitars echo Keith Richards' "Monkey Man" licks. And, of course, there is that "Long Black Veil" cover. But these guys aren't derivative, and they're definitely not slumming; there's a conviction in their delivery that can't be denied. If ever there were a perfect album for old L.A. stardust cowboys who somehow wound up in a Detroit bar after getting laid-off from their assembly line gig, this would be the one.
Deadstring Brothers Review
by Robert L. Doerschuk