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Belle Starr

Nobody You'd Know – 2000 (Hayden's Ferry)

Reviewed by Eric Zehnbauer

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CDs by Belle Starr

St. Louis' Belle Starr go a bit more "alt" and less country this time around. Not content to rehash the same sound, these country rockers explore their non-country roots, turning out a number of tunes with various influences. "Rearview" would fit comfortably into the softer end of the alternative rock format, while "Kinder Days" has an Irish folk music feel. "I Get The Point," meanwhile, features a Buddy Holly/Bo Diddley-ish beat and some tasty sax work by guest artist Michelle Isam.

There are still tunes for the country lover, especially the title track. The standout track of the album - also the most country track - featuring stellar steel guitar playing by Dennis Scoville. "Nobody You'd Know" is an achingly beautiful ballad (and concert favorite), featuring the harmonizing of the band's two vocalists. While most bands are fortunate to have one good, strong vocalist, Belle Starr is blessed with two in Lynne Reif and Kip Loui.

Musically, even with three good guitarists, especially Mike Schrand twangin' away on Telecaster, former lead guitarist John Horton's guitar shoes are mighty big ones to fill. The country quotient is noticeably fewer than in Belle Starr's previous work, so while the songs are generally good, for the country fan, this may be a bit of a letdown.