CD Review: Ruthie and the Wranglers 'Americana Express'

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Friday, May 22, 2009


Kindred spirits: Loretta Lynn, Bill Kirchen, Asleep at the Wheel, Delbert McClinton Show: Tonight at the BlackRock Center for the Arts. 7:30 p.m. 301-528-2260.

Boasting torch, twang and even more thrust than usual, Ruthie and the Wranglers' new CD opens with some piano-thumping honky-tonk, courtesy of "In the Tank," a propulsive romp that brings to mind the Dave Dudley classic "Six Days on the Road."

True to its name, "Americana Express" ultimately covers a lot of ground. The next stop is Loretta Lynn's finger-wagging admonition "You Wanna Give Me a Lift," and though the performance is equipped with a slithering bass line and a funky organ groove, singer Ruthie Logsdon's spiritual ties to the Country Music Hall of Famer couldn't be more obvious. Then the quintet moves into vintage rockabilly territory via "I Got a Rocket in My Pocket," co-composed by Logsdon's cousin Jimmie Logsdon. The frequent mood shifts are inspired by western swing sounds ("Ka-ching"), Tex-Mex traditions ("Life and Death and Hope and Dreams"), bluegrass-tinted ballads ("The Last Word in Love") and oddball guitar novelties that swiftly live up to their billing ("Surftango").

Besides Logsdon, the band boasts several gifted musicians and tunesmiths who keep "Americana Express" stoked with a blend of evocative tones and clever lyrics. That's true even when the "Repo Man" comes calling during a recession-inspired interlude.

-- Mike Joyce

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