Fans with a sweet-tooth for Uncle Tupelo and Ryan Bingham
will find satiable refuge in Kasey Anderson and Co.'s latest
release, Heart Of A Dog. Named after Mikhail Bulgakov's
satiric novella about a stray dog roaming the streets of Moscow,
the album is a fine assemblage of riff-heavy jabs. Don't let the
title reference fool you though, it's not all highbrow stuff;
mostly no-frills alt-country and blues.
The opening track, "The Wrong Light," is a bristly
opener built upon raw vocals, screeching vibrato arm, and Julian
MacDonough's trashcan lid backbeat. It's a breakneck start
to the record. "Mercy," the follow-up track, takes a
gentler tact, but relishes in the bluster of trumpets and a pervasive
catchy refrain. "Your Side Of Town" slows things down
to a sheltered tempo and reveals itself as a sobering surprise.
"My Blues, My Love" takes a similar cue to greater effect.
With its clueful guitar work and the experimental depth of the
Wurlitzer and Farfisa, it is the type of placid subtlety that
Anderson should share with listeners more often. "Revisionist
History Blues" showcases a Kinks groove, boogie woogie
piano, and the thick attitude of a feral harmonica - sort of like
a rabid dog. Completing the cycle, "For Anyone" is a
hymnal sermon to an empty congregation lifted by forlorn lyrics
and a pleading piano. Ray Charles, Jamey Johnson,
and Townes Van Zandt would all probably think it perfect
company on a lonely day.
Heart... is a strong effort from this Portland-based troubadour
and his flawless backing band. The flourishing guitars are a highlight,
as is Anderson's knack for tempering sensibility with no-nonsense
uppercuts. But as much as the heavy tracks are gratifying, it's
the deeper and more introspective songs fitted with restraint
that ultimately hijack the spotlight. For that reason, it seems
even bookish sophistication has its rightful place.
Check out more
Like this article?
e-mail it to