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Chitlin' Fooks

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Album Review

This is country music in the style of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris (the obvious inspirations behind the sweet-tart country-rock vibe, right down to a reverent cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Juanita"), but the country in question is Belgium. Recorded in just over three weeks in an Antwerp studio during a break in the principals' day-job schedules, Chitlin' Fooks brings Pascal Deweze of Sukilove and Carol Van Dyk of Bettie Serveert together with various members of the Belgian pop scene. Chitlin' Fooks is entirely different from anything either Van Dyk or Deweze has ever attempted previously, but it deserves credit not only for being an artistic change of pace, but also for being an entirely credible '70s style country-rock album. More authentically country than three-quarters of the alt-country bandwagon jumpers, this album neither condescends to the style (though the hokey rendition of Jimmie Rodgers' "Mississippi Delta Blues" that closes the album is just a little too cutesy) nor tries to mimic every last Grand Ole Opry twang in a misguided attempt at "authenticity." In particular, Van Dyk is a marvel; her voice is ideally suited to the material, the rootsier the better. It's almost impossible to believe this is the same cookie-cutter alterna-chick who appeared on Bettie Serveert's early albums. Even more than Bettie Serveert's 2000 album Private Suit, Chitlin' Fooks shows how completely Van Dyk has matured as a singer. Unfortunately, Van Dyk's stunning voice is somewhat under-used. Although Deweze acquits himself well throughout the album, he's simply outclassed as a singer, and the blend of the two leaders' vocals (which really does recall that of Parsons and Harris at times) could have been used more. That said, when one has to look at the songwriting credits to figure out which songs are covers and which are originals, it's clear that Chitlin' Fooks, unexpected though it might be, is more than just a studio lark.


Formed: Antwerp, Belgium

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

A mystifyingly named duo of Carol Van Dyk of the Dutch alternative pop group Bettie Serveert and Pascal Deweze of the Belgian pop group Sukilove, Chitlin' Fooks is a surprisingly strong take on American country rock of the Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris style that sounds nothing at all like either member's previous work. Backed by keyboardist Guy Van Nueten, bassist Pieter Van Buyten, drummer Stoffel Verlackt, pedal steel player Jeff Marinus, and violin and mandolin player Reinhard Van Bergen, all...
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Chitlin' Fooks, Chitlin' Fooks
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