Burnt Taters

Strange but True!

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Burnt Taters' follow-up to 1997's Vox Box continues with the laid-back mid-tempo roots country balladry that made up much of their debut and finds the band branching out into other, more adventurous sounds. They still wear the Roy Orbision and Everly Brothers influences proudly, but here occasional jangly guitar has been brought up in the mix, though the band remains primarily an acoustic three-piece group. A bouncy Western vibe enters into "Across the Alley" and "Slowpoke," which apes George Strait smoothness, with the straightforward steel guitar-drenched honky tonk of "Anywhere That's Pretty," showing the band making stronger forays into traditional country sounds. Still, the harder-edged distorted guitar lines of "Little Bit Left in Me" come as the closest approximation the band has made to a standard alternative country sound, which seems to be nearer to where the band is progressing. The jazzy kitchen sink clattering of "By Myself," employing crowbars and pie pans, is an interesting detour in psychedelic, Tom Waits-ish sounds. The band still returns to their classic dreamy, '50s-inspired country-pop sound on more than one occasion here, with similar results. All in all, Strange but True! is everything a second album should be, showing enough artistic growth so as to avoid becoming stagnant and retaining enough of the familiar sound to keep old fans satisfied.

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