Personnel: Kurt Marschke (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar); Tahmineh Gueramy (vocals, fiddle); Masha Marjieh (vocals); Spencer Cullum (electric guitar, slide guitar, background vocals); Mike Lynch (accordion); Ross Westerbur (piano); Chris Codish (Clavinet); Pat Kenneally (Wurlitzer organ).
Audio Mixer: Dan Currie.
Recording information: DSB Recordings, Royal Oak, MI.
Photographer: Kurt Marschke.
There's no sense repeating the Rolling Stones circa Exile on Main St. comparisons that will likely dog Detroit's Deadstring Brothers for the foreseeable future. It's more productive to start from that assumption and progress on to the songs and performances from the band's fourth release and third for scrappy Americana label Bloodshot. The imprint is a perfect fit for the group's raw, ragged, and above all soulful country-rock. Frontman Kurt Marschke replicates Jagger's languid drawl down to the occasional falsetto he employs on whiskey-soaked rockers such as "Houston," but this is more of a tribute to, rather than an imitation of, the Stones' notorious frontman. Better still is the overall quality of these songs, all but two of which are written or co-penned by Marschke. The female harmonies of frontwoman Masha Marjieh, so impressive in concert and previously a staple of the Deadstrings' driving vocal attack, are relegated to the sidelines since she only contributes to three tracks. The tattered truck-stop country at the heart of the group's approach combines with a Cajun accordion on the lovely ballad "Yesterday's Style," one of a pair of contributions from U.K. guitarist Spencer Cullum. His wailing pedal steel threads the country & western that weaves through so much of this disc. Tracks such as the soaring midtempo "Can't Make It Through the Night," with its female gospel-infused background vocals, are better than the filler on the mid-'70s Stones albums the DBs obviously love. Some might hear the affecting "Adalee" and dismiss it as a poor man's "Angie" or "Coming Down Again" (both from Goat's Head Soup) but with its accordion and heartfelt vocal from the always impressive Marschke, it's more than a knockoff. Few bands nail this somewhat retro sound more impressively than the Deadstring Brothers, so even if it's not exactly original, the album remains compelling, affecting, and refreshingly out of step with much of contemporary roots rock. ~ Hal Horowitz
Mojo (Publisher) (p.99) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "There's instant, engaging familiarity when they rock out or kick back."