Mary Janes

The Mary Janes Record, No. 1

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What with their Nashville record label and conspicuous fiddle and steel guitar, the Mary Janes are generally considered to be a part of the alt-country phenomenon. But the group's actual sound, which is slow, gently jangly, and swooningly tuneful, is about as far from country tradition as you can get and still feature fiddle and steel guitar. In fact, "Shooting Star," which opens the album with a seven-minute stretch of dreamy vocals, plodding drums, and incredibly affecting melody, evinces no other group as much as This Mortal Coil. "Wish I Could Fly" is more clearly rooted in country-rock, or at least folk-rock. Built on a foundation of guitar arpeggio and fiddle ostinato, it's an irresistible piece of sweet, yearning guitar pop. Singer and guitarist Janas Hoyt tends to whisper, and she shies away from liquid consonants unnecessarily (รก la Natalie Merchant and Eddie Reader), but her delivery never seems less than perfect in the context of the song. This is a rare gem of a debut from a band that already deserves far wider recognition.

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