Like a Tom Waits prodigy, Eric Bachmann employs his hopeful rasp on Red Devil Dawn creating a sweet mix of Americana, heartland melancholy and an essentially optimistic outlook. Red Devil Dawn is a welcome masterpiece of emotional subtleties -- the great record that Crooked Fingers missed the mark on with 2001's drunken, bluesy and somewhat disappointing Bring On the Snakes. "Big Darkness" jangles along, looking for "a hero coming soon." "You Can Never Leave" moans like something off of Heartattack and Vine or Springsteen's absolutely perfect Nebraska. And speaking of Nebraska, the hauntingly spare "Bad Man Coming" could have easily fit between "Johnny 99" and "Highway Patrolman" on that record -- had this song come out in 1981, a 32 year old Springsteen may have covered it as readily as Waits' "Jersey Girl"." The best track on Red Devil Dawn has to be "You Through a Spark," an exhilarating and joyful swirl of horns, guitar and raw feelings, and something closest to Waits' Rain Dogs on a manic binge. In the end, Red Devil Dawn is simply a beautiful album, and the first truly great release of 2003.
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AllMusic Review by Charles Spano