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Jim Roll

Ready To Hang – 1998 (One Man Clapping)

Reviewed by Eric Zehnbauer

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CDs by Jim Roll

Since the moniker "alt-country" was coined, the sound has become varied, branching into more rock, hard-country and bluegrass offshoots. But not for quite a while has a new artist come along who captures the feel of that sound which helped create the genre. Jim Roll does just that in a stellar debut. At times, sounding more like Uncle Tupelo than any of the bands since, Roll perfectly blends country songwriting and instrumentation with a rock sensibility. At other times, he gets into a blues-funk groove ("Backseat") or does an uncanny Neil Young sound-alike ("Double Time").

Throughout, Roll shows off a multitude of talents: singer; songwriter (he wrote or co-wrote all 13 tracks); and multi-instrumentalist, playing guitars, fiddle, organ, and others. And he varies his style, from the Spanish feel of "She Said" to the fiddle-heavy hoedown sound of "Another Lover" to the funky "Backseat.

High marks all around. (Available for $15 including S&H from One Man Clapping Records, 2032 North Racine, Chicago, IL 60614)