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Penny Jo Pullus

Lucky #7 – 2000 (Art of Balance)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Penny Jo Pullus

Four years ago, Canadian-born Penny Jo Pullus joined the Austin music scene rather than go the Nashville route, and this second release does indeed suggest a performer who's more at home on stage in a Central Texas roadhouse somewhere between Bastrop and Round Rock. Though not quite as powerful and searing, Pullus' vocals feature a touch of the haunting pathos of a Kelly Willis, with maybe just a hint of a Lucinda Williams for good measure. Backed by electric guitars, keyboards and drums - no fiddle or pedal steel - Pullus' arrangements are more toward the rock end of the spectrum, yet still retain that raw, roadhouse edge that serves her style well. Like a good pair of boots, some things are better left unpolished.

Pullus wrote or co-wrote all seven tracks. She's a little more assured on material like "Best Texas Grocery" and "How Many Times A Fool" than on somewhat more saccharine fare like "Honey Please Be Kind." On the whole, though, those who like singers with an emotional edge may well find Pullus to be an unexpected surprise. (E-Mail: pjp@texas.net, 1605 W. 35th St., Austin, TX 78703)