Gerald Collier

Low Tar Taste

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Among Gerald Collier's work, no effort discloses his talents for songmanship like the EP-length Low Tar Taste. Though Collier the pop artist has a delicious knack for deviating from the mainstream, this collection can only be described as full-on country. Bold and shimmering acoustic guitars, weeping, leaning pedal steels, and gritty drum-basslines drive the songs in a satisfying, clear production style comparable to Dwight Yoakam. The infectious melodies, cut to flush perfection, are often accented by vintage tremolo guitars, banjos, or a Willie Nelson-style electric, earnest and unapologetic. Collier himself brings to mind the weathered boyishness of Gram Parsons, in lyric and in voice: No matter how many times he travels "down that road and back," he'll always be vulnerable, and his own worst enemy -- though it's invariably the love of woman that rules or ruins him. The lyrics are clever and narrative, borrowing that touch of facetiousness that reaches clear back to Hank Williams, despite the self-pitying persona he sets forth. The sobering "Still Your Fool," draped all in sad fiddle, lands hard on the downbeats -- even the mandolin, normally a brightening instrument, is weighted with lethargy, as it seems to pluck in half time against Collier's pleas of defeat and hopeless attachment. Throughout, Collier revisits the theme of long-distance love (gone awry). However, the final track departs into downright comedy, as the lovelorn anti-hero finds himself pitted against the atrocities of an aged prostitute, complete with irreverent fiddles plucking on the upbeat. An accomplished, incredibly tight set of music, with no loose ends, and hardly room for doubt.

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