TANDY

"The Lowdown: 1997-2002"

Gammon

These days, Tandy's "The Lowdown: 1997-2002" would probably be classified as "alt-country." Yet it doesn't seem that Tandy singer-songwriter Mike Ferrio cares much about these days.

The album is dedicated to the memory of Dave Van Ronk, who duets on one track, and the music recalls the gruff, unfussy eclecticism of that folkie's '60s heyday. Such tunes as "Fidelis" and "The District Doctor" sound a little country and a little bit rock 'n' roll but at heart they're folk songs. The only track that feels labored is a cover of "Sister Golden Hair," the 1975 America hit, that features trip-country troubadour Jim White and a whole mess of backup "doowops."

"Sister Golden Hair" is one of only two new selections on "The Lowdown," which compiles 14 songs from three previous albums. The earlier discs have not been widely available, however, since the New York quartet released them itself, and most of the material has held up well. Plainspoken tunes like "The Truth Is Better Than a Lie" may not be timeless, but they're not going to go stale as quickly as most contemporary pop.

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Sunday at IOTA. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Tandy, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8110. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)