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On their delightful new album, Country Club (Yep Roc), John Doe and Canadian troublemakers the Sadies balance informal breeziness with snappy precision. And they clearly adore the material they're playing--mostly country tunes made famous by 60s stars like Bobby Bare ("Detroit City"), Roger Miller ("Husbands and Wives"), Porter Wagoner ("The Cold Hard Facts of Life"), and Tammy Wynette ("'Til I Get It Right").
The Sadies, who are essentially a rock band with an unusually wide range and a touch of twang, nail the songs: they neither tiptoe too reverently in an attempt to sound authentic nor play it so loose as to be disrespectful to the originals. Alt-country vets Eric Heywood and Bob Egan make guest appearances, both contributing some lovely pedal steel work, but for the most part the Sadies seem content to sound like themselves. Doe has always been a pretty fine rock singer, and though of course that doesn't necessarily make him a good country singer, he's been flirting with the genre frequently, all the way to back to the Knitters--he's learned how to repurpose his cool croon to convey the dark essence that lurks inside most of these songs.
The album has a great collegial vibe, and I'd expect that to be the case twice over onstage. John Doe & the Sadies perform tomorrow night at the Double Door.
Here's the video for the group's take on the Carl Belew tune "Stop the World and Let Me Off," which you might know from versions by Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, and Dwight Yoakam.
Mulatu Astatke & the Heliocentrics, Inspiration Information 3 (Strut)
Gordon Grdina's Box Cutter, New Rules for Noise (Spool)
Townhouse Orchestra, Belle Ville (Clean Feed)
Little Caesar, Your On the Hour Man--The Modern, Dolphin and Downey Recordings 1952-1960 (Ace)
Daniel Zamir, I Believe (Tzadik)