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Cicero Buck | Delicate Shades of Grey (Super Tiny Records)
The first thing that strikes you is the voice. It belongs to Kris Wilkinson, and it's in the k.d.lang class. No, really. She plays guitar too, and writes the songs with Joe Hughes, the other half, who plays the bass. He was once half of an 80s pop duo called The Lover Speaks. One of their songs, No More I Love Yous, was later a hit for Annie Lennox. The press release also tries to tar them with the trendy brush, but this is singer-songwritery stuff - late lang style, maybe - especially on the rather lovely Skyline, which is uncannily like our k.d. - but not really very country. There isn't a pedal steel guitar or a banjo anywhere to be found, or any songs about coming home, going away, or places in America. There are strings, though, and some tablas and congas, especially on Your Voice, and Beautiful Daydreamer which combines vocal pyrotechnics with some string quartet textures. The consistency and strength of the vocals is not matched by the songs, unfortunately, most notably the three 'bonus' tracks (particularly the one with the EBTG drum'n'bass backing) from other, presumably earlier, sessions. Which all seems to point to a pretty speedy rate of improvement, so the next album should be well worth waiting for.

Jeff Cotton
August 2002