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Various Artists

A Country West of Nashville – 2003 (Little Dog)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Various Artists

This compilation appears to aim at being the latest installment in the late '80s/early '90s "A Town South of Bakersfield" series. While those three volumes played off Bakersfield as ground zero of the California country alternative to Nashville to document the Los Angeles alternative country scene, the organizing principle here is more geographic than anything else.

A few of the artists display some strain of the Bakersfield sound or are associated with current Los Angeles alt.-country - Mike Stinson and Cisco, to name two. The rest of the performers cover a wide range of ground from the country pop typical of B.J. Thomas on "Nashville Rain" to the buoyant pure pop Eugene Edwards displays on "I'll Be True Someday" to the folk of Mike Martt's "Bobby Kennedy" to the noirish jazz tones of Sherri Nourse's song "Lazy Balloon," and the only thing uniting them is the fact that they all hail from locales that are varying degrees west of Music City.

While dispersed in its intent, the comp is, like most, hit-or-miss in its music; among the former are the (now apparently defunct) Souvenirs' "Blue Valentine" as well as the aforementioned Edwards and Nourse tracks.