Karen Poston

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Karen Poston's debut album (with her band the Crystal Pistols) is a strong blend of insurgent country that provides an apt showcase for Poston's powerful pipes -- which land her somewhere between the classic country belters of yore and young alt-country-pop lion Kelly Willis. The album consists primarily of originals with two covers thrown in, including the country waltz "It Only Hurts for a Little While." The title track is straight-up classic honky tonk, while "Lydia," a Poston original that first cropped up on a Slaid Cleaves album in 2000, is a heartrending number about an Appalachian coal-mining tragedy. The effort also dips into the more pop side of things with "Flowered Dresses." No matter how you cut it, though -- alt-country, pop, or neo-trad -- this is a strong country album. In her songwriting, Poston has a keen literary bent, knack for detail, and unerring sense of melody; vocally, she ranks with the best of the female roots music ilk. Kelly Willis and Gurf Morlix make guest appearances on the album.

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