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Pat Haney

Wrong Rite of Passage – 2000 (Freefalls Entertainment)

Reviewed by Clarissa Sansone

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CDs by Pat Haney

Pat Haney has all the blue-collar bona fides of a country singer-songwriter - born in Kentucky, just shy of Nashville, worked on riverboats and in liquor stores, pumped gas - but don't let that get in the way of appreciating his parched, direct vocals and the well-chosen images that fill this debut.

Haney delivers his stories of the woebegotten and lovelorn with such conviction that he can get away with using "might could" and "hisself" without it sounding put-on. There seems to be such strength both to his voice and his words that musical accompaniment easily clutters it. His most effective numbers, like "Jealous of the River," "One More Trip on Susan," "Follow You" and "Early Fall," are musically restrained, while in its weaker moments the album relies too much on production and over-instrumentation, giving the songs a generic loudness.

Haney's voice is what stands out most. With the exception of the easy, less deliberate accompaniment on the bluegrass protest "Won't Be Over No Coal," which features a deft banjo solo by Jeff Hays, the music comes across as relatively uninspired in comparison to the vocals. Overall, it's a collection of no-frills country that's refreshingly sincere.