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LET IT TWANG! CD Review

Paul Burch & the WPA Ballclub -- Blue Notes (Merge).  The move to Merge Records brings with it change; not in the lineup, for the Ballclub remains intact from Wire to Wire.  But Burch's sound pallet has widened considerably -- Paul has added early rock n roll and soul with his usual deftness and understatement.  The disc begins with a melancholy meditation "Willpower" ("I've been rendered unkind by that baby of mine, and she don't want no more of me.")  His voice is a cool, soulful twang with pedal steel and vibraphone nudging him along.  The mood revs up considerably with "Long Distance Call" which is a crackling rockabilly romp with an engine on the verge of blowing ("well she's a rattling, sure, but all we're stopping for is pills, smokes, and the state patrol").   This record's riches are many, but no moment more glorious than the call-and-response of "How Do I Know" when guest-vocalist (and Nashville's first poet laureate) Tom House shouts "Cook your collard greens with ham / Save the drippings in a can."   No review would be complete without a comment about the wonderful story-song "Carter Cain" -- plain-faced and clear-eyed, despised everywhere he goes ("there's a pickup truck circling the block and they're calling out your name").  Burch's eye for detail and turn-of-phrase is at its height.  This record is a marvelous accomplishment from one of Nashville's best.  -TRS


Track listing:

1. Willpower (4:28)
2. Forever Yours (3:06)
3. Isolda (5:17)
4. Long Distance Call (2:30)
5. Tonight, Tonight (4:34)
6. How Do I Know? (4:50)
7. Hard Women Blues (3:29)
8. Hitting Bottom (4:34)
9. Oh My Darlin' (3:11)
10. Carter Cain (4:16)
11. Foolish Things the Lonely Do (4:21)
12. Head Over Heels (3:19)


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