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Whiting Tennis

Three Leaf Clover

(Tarnished; US: 24 Apr 2007; UK: Available as import)

If Three Leaf Clover were released as an EP, it’d be one of the better small releases so far this year. The first six songs are beautifully sparse and full of slow, steamy guitar riffs. The bucolic ballad “This Town” injects the simplest quotidian phrases with all the sadness and claustrophobia of small town life (at the beginning a waitress asks, “What’ll you have? What’ll you have?”). Opener “Teenage Daughter” name-drops Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and manages to pay homage to the country classic, while also painting its own distinct emotional landscape, by tapping into a wistful regret that is as beautiful as it is achingly realized. “Japanese Lanterns” rounds out the first half of the record with the same brooding, as Tennis suffers through a number of artifacts left behind by an ex-lover. The second half of the record unfortunately loses the momentum. There’s no doubting Tennis has got the goods to produce some classic, country-infused and indelible narratives; he just might do well to mute his influences a little more, and let his own talents shine through.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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