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The Kentucky Headhunters

Dixie Lullabies

(Red Dirt; US: 18 Oct 2011; UK: Import)

A colorful collection of guitar tones, the Kentucky Headhunters’ latest album ranges from the strawberry-bright lead lines of “Boone’s Farm Boogie” to steely black-and-blue riffs in the monstrous “Little Miss Blues Breaker”, and ends with the golden haze of “Recollection Blues”. For studio album number eight, the Southern rock longhairs are on some serious Roy G. Biv shit. These one-time country hit makers have grown into plausible candidates for America’s Greatest Bar Band, and they’re holding steady after the triumphant 2006 best-of Flying Under the Radar. On Dixie Lullabies, the Headhunters’ reason for being remains that sound: the alchemical wonder of those guitars, a rhythm section that’s precise and devoid of B.S., and the wildly divergent singing styles of Doug Phelps (prim and keening) and Richard Young (falling down drunk). The two men play off one another like the clean and extreme vocalists in a metal band. You can hear their pleasure in draping that gorgeous sound across these 14 original songs, even if some of the the songs themselves—particularly “Sugar Daddy”, “Just Another Night”, and the title track—can seem functionally equivalent to coat hangers, and about as interesting.

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Josh Langhoff is a church musician. He's written about music for The Village Voice, The Singles Jukebox, two EMP Pop Conferences, his church newsletter, his blogs Surfing in Babylon and The Flowtation Device, and the Burnside Writers Collective, where he also serves as music editor.


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