When it comes to distinguishing traditional from alternative country, it's the singer, not the song. Kevin Butterfield is a traditional country singer, but not because he's a stuffy purist or because he's mimicking the classic honky-tonkers he has devoured like bagsful of boiled peanuts. Lefty Frizzell, Faron Young and pre-jazz Ray Price echo through Butterfield's tenor, but he approaches every melody with personal understatement and tender grace. His band is no threat to the Buckaroos, but twang-rock veterans Greg Lamb and John Baldus and secret pedal-steel weapon Scott Swartz take boxy Nashville and Bakersfield rhythms and melodies, kick them right where it hurts and then get straight to the soul of agonizing but cathartic barroom weepers.
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