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Texas Rubies

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In the acoustic country duo that calls itself the Texas Rubies, Jane Baxter Miller's purer, more distinctive voice leads the way through what are mostly Kelly Kessler's songs. As often as not they're good songs, too: uncompromising elucidations of a slightly desperate romantic sensibility set to unadorned, somewhat antique-sounding chord progressions and harmonies. Some of the themes are so conventional (please come home, don't leave me, I'm not in love) that I've always imagined the pair was bending over backward to give the music its props, for the benefit of both themselves and their perhaps too-ready-for-irony north-side audience. Listening to their first album, Working Girl Blues, however, I've decided it's mostly 'cause they dig the music big time: Albert Brooks aside, need can be sexy, and so can songs about heartbreak, loss, and humiliation. Any questionable sexual politics the pair's themes may imply are nicely and matter-of-factly eviscerated by a number of things: the power in their voices as they sing "Come on Home"; their unadorned cover of "Working Girl Blues"; and, finally, three wailing Kessler-penned gems ("The Way You Break My Heart," "Someone You Used to Love," and "Not a Love Song") that do what the best country's supposed to do: start with those timeworn emotions, and take it higher. Tonight, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.

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