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Carrie Hassler

The Distance

(Rural Rhythm; US: 24 Apr 2012; UK: 24 Apr 2012)

The first song on Carrie Hassler’s album The Distance is a corker. “Luxury Liner” careens out of your speakers on a bed of fiddles, mandolin and guitar, while Hassler’s angsty vocals gushes out a torrent of uncertainty, defiance and pain. It sounds like swinging bluegrass, and it’s an exhilerating start. Unfortunately, “Luxury Liner” is as good as the record gets. Everything that follows is middle-of-the-road, by-the-numbers country: the schmaltzy sentimentality of “All I Have to Do Is Breathe” and “Keep Your Memory Warm”, the faux-naivete of “Give My Love” and the prefab sass of “Get Me Over You.” Hassler has assembled a solid team of backing musicians, including Tim Stafford on guitar, Ron Stewart on banjo and Mark Fain on bass, but even a talented band can only play the songs they’re given, and here they are given very little to work with.

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DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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