Chitlin' Fooks

Did It Again

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On their sophomore outing, Chitlin' Fooks, the duo of Carol Van Dijk (of former Holland alterna-rockers Bettie Serveert) and Pascal Deweze (Sukilove), continue the vein of alt-country pop they initiated on their 2001 self-titled debut. This time around, aided by a gaggle of Antwerp musicians, the duo pushes the boundaries of their chosen idiom. They no longer simply sound like a couple of talented Europeans with a serious jones for Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, but a thriving combo stretching their legs into other regions. They still do effectively heart-worn country -- "Sorry" is a wrenching ballad -- and upbeat, classic-minded country & western ("Oh, Joanna"). Nevertheless, the rousing, horn-driven title track, the best tune here, ushers in a whole new bag of sounds. The result is a swinging brand of cosmopolitan roots pop. Deweze's vocal contributions are much stronger this time around, but he's smart enough to let Van Dijk shine -- and vocally, this is her album. She had an intriguing set of pipes even back in the Serveert days, but her unique, unobtrusive, and appealing tones have only gotten better over the years. Furthermore, the country template, which allows her to emotionally nestle into the tracks, seems to suit her better than the alt-rock of yore. The only ill-advised step on Did It Again is the lukewarm, Stonesy barroom crunch of "Take the Money and Run." Otherwise, this is a solid and appealing alt-country effort with pop smarts.

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