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Various Artists | New Sounds of the Old West Volume Three (Loose)
As the once marginalised strains of pedal steel and Hicksville twang have seeped into the mainstream, it was inevitable that the parameters of what constitutes 'alt.country' would be ever widened to accommodate an ever more diverse band of musical bandits. With the third volume in their increasingly misleadingly titled 'NSOTOW' series, Brit Americana stalwarts Loose invite established genre-definers The Handsome Family, Giant Sand and Cowboy Junkies to rub shoulders with singer-songwriters old and new (Mark Eitzel, Evan Dando, M. Ward, Bright Eyes). Add some fresh British blood (Vera Cruise, Goldrush, Lincoln) and a smattering of heavyweights (Sparklehorse, Grandaddy, Beachwood Sparks) and you've got yourself a formidable line-up. Whether that translates as 'a formidable compilation' is debatable and, as with most collections, probably irrelevant. Fans will lap up the exclusive offerings from Grandaddy (who claim Kris Kristofferson's Best of All Possible Worlds for themselves), Dando's reading of Hank Williams' Won't You Sometimes Think of Me from his yet-to-be-released country covers album and the demo-quality alternate take of Eitzel's Seeing Eye Dog, but perhaps be less enthralled by dull British hopefuls Goldrush and Vera Cruise whose derivative stadium-friendly gush pale in comparison to the likes of Bright Eyes (whose A Perfect Sonnet is a stand-out but not the exclusive the sleeve claims), M.Ward's wonderful (but again less than hard to find) Beautiful Car, and the Jason Lytle-enhanced remix of Giant Sand's Shiver.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002

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