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Album Review

Is anyone named more appropriately than Sass Jordan? On her sophomore effort, the Montreal-based rocker kicks the synth-heavy Starship impersonation of her first album to the curb, raids her old Faces and Bad Company LPs for inspiration, and turns the attitude up to 11. Racine ("roots" in French) lurches into gear with "Make You a Believer," a brassy, swaggering nugget of electric barroom crunch that draws from the same well as the Black Crowes but might go one better with its surging gospel chorus. "If You're Gonna Love Me" wraps a cutting riff around Jordan's reckless vocal, which threatens to careen out of control but — of course — never does. Jordan's a pro, as her effortless shift into balladry for "You Don't Have to Remind Me" proves. When she sings the payoff line after the chorus — "Because every night I sleep alone" — it's with a sigh and a nod, as if she's acknowledging the crappiness of how things go, but will just have another cigarette and forget about it, because there's plenty of fish in the sea. Later, a horn section stops by for "Do What Ya Want," and even if it's totally clichéd, it somehow works, if only on the sheer elastic sandpaper quality of Jordan's vocal. That's the thing about Racine — it's not sparklingly original, but who ever said great barroom hard rock had to be? Each song starts with a chip on its shoulder, as if Jordan's the new girl in town and wants to prove she can hang. By song's end, she's the center of attention. And trashing the cold synths of Tell Somebody for the vibrant Hammond organ of the title track and "Windin' Me Up" was the best possible move she could have made. Jordan always sings straight from her heart — it's great to hear her throaty purr over instrumentation that comes from the same place.

Racine, Sass Jordan
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