Dime Box

Five and Dime Waltz

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Dime Box are five women exploring the wide open spaces of Southern California with music that offers a smart and thoroughly engaging take on classic country, bluegrass, and folk with just the right dash of rock & roll sass and energy. Dime Box singer and rhythm guitarist Kristi Callan used to be the leader of the '80s alt-pop outfit Wednesday Week, and two decades on her vocals are just as skillful and even more graceful than they were back in the day, while her able bandmates Edie Murphy (fiddle and mandolin), Yolande Ng (lead guitar), Pam Moore (bass), and Laura Ann Masura (percussion) add superb harmonies that give a lovely lift to the melodies. Callan wrote or co-wrote all the tunes on Five and Dime Waltz (except for a fine and respectful cover of Dolly Parton's "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind"), and while the music reflects the traditions of country music, the lyrics are focused on the realities of life in the present day, from folks struggling to make ends meet working at a big box store at minimum wage ("Five & Dime Waltz") and the dilemma of why bad things keep happening to good people ("High Road") to the nuts and bolts of love after ten years and a couple of kids ("Nobody") and a divorced mom's battle to hold her family and life together ("Up to Here"). Dime Box's music is gloriously free of irony and melodrama, and they spin their tales with an understanding of the important details of life and a love of this music that leaves room for a personal stamp all its own. Add a crisp and straightforward production from Dennis Moody and you get a great alt-country set that confirms maturity and tradition can actually be (gulp) fun. A splendid debut album.

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