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Album Review

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.

Biography

Formed: 1988 in New York, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

An alt country band whose brand of rootsy Americana blends folk, blues, rock and hip-hop and a sharp dose of what might be called Mexican klezmer into a sound that is somehow both startlingly fresh and familiar at the same time, Red Rooster was formed in New York City in 1998 by friends Jay Erickson (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica) and Nat Zilkha (lead guitar, dobro). The two played initially as a duo but gradually expanded into a full band with Ted Shergalis on fiddle, Jamie Forrest on...
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Walk, Red Rooster
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