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All Over the Road

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Album Review

Mars Arizona's second album is more country and less folky than their debut, Love Songs from the Apocalypse. Produced and arranged by Paul Knowles and Nicole Storto, it's a blend of originals and covers in a dark alt-country mode. "He Broke Your Heart" is a slow country-rock song marked by Knowles' exhausted vocal and moaning slide guitar fills. "Goodbye Peace" is a eulogy to a dead friend. Storto's multi-tracked vocals and the churchy organ give the song a solemn feeling, while the distorted guitar solo portrays the rage one feels at the loss of a friend. "Shadows on the Wall" is another song about death, or maybe suicide, with clanging guitars that mirror the confusion an old man feels as his life slips away. "Pretty Mama, Pretty Girl" is a minimal country tune, the sad tale of a barroom gal alone with her empty life. Storto's cheerless vocal dances between quiet acoustic guitars and Knowles' tortured electric guitar, mixed down to accentuate the song's hopeless vibe. The title tune is an energetic, twang-heavy cosmic honky tonk rocker with screaming slide guitar work by Knowles. Buck Owens' "Excuse Me (I Think I've Got a Heartache)" gets slowed to accent the emotional pain of the lyric. Storto's vulnerable vocal and Chad Manning's weeping fiddle make it a tearjerker. "Working Class Hero" blends Manning's spooky fiddle and Knowles' desolate vocal, while Gillian Welch's "Elvis Presley Blues" goes to church with a sanctified instrumental coda from Larry Steelman's Hammond B-3. ~ j. poet, Rovi

All Over the Road, Mars Arizona
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