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Red River Flower

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Album Review

It's no surprise that Brigitte DeMeyer sounds like what you'd get if Buddy Miller produced Sheryl Crow. That's because DeMeyer, after working successfully with Miller on 2006's Something After All, invited him back in a more substantial role to work on the follow-up. Additionally, she went to his Nashville hometown to bring him into the studio and record these songs live, as opposed to the extensive overdubbing on her last outing. DeMeyer's vocal similarities compare favorably to the best aspects of Crow's singing, especially in its most emotional sense, resulting in an album that connects without the slickness inherent in much of Crow's work. Drummer Brady Blade returns to produce and, as usual, DeMeyer surrounds herself with some top-flight veteran players such as guitarist Mike Henderson and pedal steel master Al Perkins. Add authentic churchy backing singers in Regina McCrary and Gayle Mayes for an extra boost. It also helps that DeMeyer is not only in fine, tough voice, but that she's written some of her best, most gospel-influenced material for her fourth album. The live-in-the-studio sound is enhanced by a few overdubs, but the immediacy of the face-to-face interaction courses through these songs. The music is a combination of roots country, bluegrass, and folk, all based in blues, soul, and gospel. It's heavy on introspective ballads such as "A Moment's Refugee" and "Meant for Mine," and although these are intimate, lovely performances, a few more upbeat tracks such as the opening "Looking for Moses" (set against spare finger snaps and walking standup bass) and the following double-time tempo of "Without You" (featuring a patented Miller guitar solo) would have helped liven up the final third of the set list. However, the blues-based swing of the closing shuffle "When I'm Gone" captures the spirit of these sessions, which exude the edgy electricity of a band whose members feed off each other's energy and their lead singer's enthusiasm. Sheryl Crow should take notes.

Red River Flower, Brigitte Demeyer
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