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Jim Stringer and the Austin Music Band

In My Hand – 2004 (The Music Room)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Jim Stringer and the Austin Music Band

This is the third release from Jim Stringer and his cohort of Austin players. What's in Stringer's hand this time around? Nothing too different than his previous efforts, although this one might veer a bit more strongly in the direction of country than its predecessors due to the introduction of pedal steel and songs such as "Three Wishes" (a nice duet Stringer sings with his daughter, Stacy Taylor), a countryed-up cover of Joni Mitchell's "Raised on Robbery" and the shuffling "The Smartest Man Alive."

Still, as usual, Stringer and company throw diverse musical elements into the pot. The title track, a classic love-triangle-with-the-usual-ending song, has a Marty Robbins vibe to it. "I'll Give You Miles" infuses some soul into its country. There's also western swing and jazzy touches ("Cold Uneasy Blues" and a nice version of "I Remember You," on which Stringer duets with Susanna Van Tassel), some vintage rockabilly ("Can't Hold Me Back" and "Pink Tornado"), and even a bit of polka (an instrumental tribute to Austin's renowned Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon).

Some strong songwriting from Stringer, along with fine work from the likes of pianist T Jarrod Bonta and steel man Ricky Davis, complete the deal and make this another nice outing from the AM Band. (Music Room, 7301 Burnet Road, #102-525, Austin, TX 78757, 512-302-0766)