Red Rooster


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Singer/songwriter/guitarist Jay Erickson and guitarist/songwriter Nat Zilkha, the core duo making up the Brooklyn-based band Red Rooster, favor arrangements prominently featuring acoustic string instruments associated with country music -- banjo, mandolin, fiddle, pedal steel guitar, Dobro -- which has led to their group being dubbed "alt-country." They also throw in horns occasionally, as well as electronic effects, but all these musical elements are employed subtly and in the service of Erickson and Zilkha's low-key songs, which Erickson sings in a husky, conversational mid-range tenor that occupies the center of the musical picture. His worldweary tone is appropriate to the lyrics, which find him musing about life and love in a moody manner. Much of the time, he is accompanied on harmony vocals by Susannah Hornsby, taking the sort of place that Emmylou Harris took with Gram Parsons and, later, Bob Dylan on his 1976 album Desire. That album, in fact, is something of a touchstone with, for instance, the jazzy "Let It All Go" being strongly reminiscent of Dylan's "One More Cup of Coffee." Hornsby (a niece of Bruce Hornsby) takes lead vocals on her own composition "Borrowed Money," and on the album closer, a cover of the '50s country evergreen "Satisfied Mind." The question of who is and who is not actually a member of Red Rooster is not really answered in the album credits, which simply list 17 different singers and musicians (among them mandolin player Jamie Forrest, who has been credited as a bandmember in the past, but not Ted Shergalis or Miles Crawford, who also had been), but on Walk, Hornsby seems to rank with Erickson and Zilkha as a major factor in their cross-genre mixture.

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