Paved Country

Deconstructing Paradise

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AllMusic Review by Charles Spano

On Deconstructing Paradise, Paved Country's take on "No Depression" leans towards Nashville, but with a dose of roots rock. Marjie Alonso's vocals and songwriting would fit right in with artists from country music's Top 40 charts. But it is Sarah Mendelsohn's voice that is the most resonant and closest to revivalists like Gillian Welch. The album hinges on the two personalities -- and though the partnership appears quite successful, the songs themselves seem to be traveling in opposite directions. Alonso's get-up-and-go "I Wish Our Love Was New," sentimental "Surprise Surprise," and single-worthy "Step Away From the Woman" seem destined for the radio and the cowboy-hat and-buttoned-up-shirt-tucked-into-tight-jeans crowd. On the other hand, Mendelsohn's subtle honky tonk on "Sentimental Old Fool," the misty melancholy of "Turn Out the Light," and the sleepy, old-school "Move Mountains" evoke a stranger, southwestern feel. It's only on the nostalgic and romantic cover of Merle Haggard's inspired "What Am I Gonna Do" that the two meet, and Mendelsohn's style wins out. Overall, Deconstructing Paradise is impressive but conflicted -- while fans of Neko Case, Trailer Bride, and Hazeldine would appreciate Mendelsohn's work, they would likely find Alonso's writing, and the production, a little too slick.

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