Kazuhiro Inaba

Teardrop on a Rose

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Perhaps its seems unusual to some listeners when an Australian or Japanese musician embraces an American musical genre like country. What is ironic, though, is that performers like Kazuhiro Inaba aren't so much interested in contemporary country -- as in Shania Twain and Garth Brooks -- as they are Hank Williams. The country classics on Teardrop on a Rose, in fact, sound more like the real thing than what passes for it in contemporary Nashville. The songs themselves reach back to yesteryear, drawing from Don Reno ("Emotions"), Ira & Charlie Louvin ("Are You Wastin' My Time?"), and Frederic E. Weatherly ("Danny Boy"). The majority of the songs come from Hank Williams, including "Cold, Cold Heart," "Mansion on the Hill," and the title cut. Of course, the material itself doesn't necessarily make it country. That's accomplished by Inaba's warm vocals and the sparse arrangements of guitar, upright bass, and fiddle. Kathy Chiavola and Keith Little add harmony here and there to fill the choruses out, while Buddy Spicher's viola adds rich undercurrents. The award for most interesting arrangement goes to "Alone and Forsaken." The song has been stripped bare with the bass filling the empty spaces behind Inaba's vocal, perfectly mimicking the forlorn lyric. Teardrop on a Rose will please anyone who believes that country music, Nashville-style, took a wrong turn around 1990.

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