Mike West

New South

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Folksinger Mike West lays down his mantra in the opening cut, "Dixie," on New South: "I don't suffer fools and I don't play Dixie." West mixes his left-of-center humor with fairly straightforward arrangements (if one doesn't count the tuba) for 18 original songs. "Dogs and Ticks" includes a number of circular stories, each starting simply and building toward amusing catastrophe. The dogs get ticks, which leads to lime disease; the narrator buys weed, which leads to getting busted. However, all turns out well when the narrator finds Jesus, which gets him saved -- and "being saved got me praying/Now I got to behave." West paints a sardonic portrait of the New South on the album's title cut, a land occupied by "fraternity boys and sorority girls" along with lots of folks from up north. Despite all the changes, everything seems pretty much the same: "In the New South like the Old South/Speak your mind but shut your mouth/When you're talking about the New South." West's skewed point of view works less well on pieces like "Clothes Dryer" and "Muleskinner," songs that go on too long and are a bit obvious. Fans who have grown fond of West's oddball approach to folk will nonetheless joyfully add New South to their CD collections.

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