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Ruthie and the Wranglers

Life's Savings – 1998 (Lasso)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Ruthie and the Wranglers

Ruthie and the Wranglers offer another strong set of honky-tonk rave-ups, shuffles and weepers with a generous dollop of rockabilly as well on the second release of the DC group. Vocally, Ruth Logsdon may remind listeners of singers as varied as Rosie Flores, Wanda Jackson and Janie Fricke, and her singing is ably supported by the playing of the Wranglers. In particular, the fine guitar picking of Phil Mathieu is featured throughout and he also authored and provides some Buckeroovian twang on the instrumental "The Farewell Polka."

The songs are a mix of originals and a couple of reprises of the old stuff, which seems obligatory these days for those who get thrown (for whatever reason) into the alternative-country camp. Del Reeves' "A Dime at a Time" is given an uptempo run-through by the band, but more notable is the choice (and execution) of Loretta Lynn's "Fist City," a song that is still capable of drawing the listener up short with the ferocity of its lyrics. On the other hand, the Logsdon original "He's a Honky Tonk Man" may be as trad-sounding as the similarly-named Johnny Horton standard, but it's entirely modern in topic, as is sufficiently indicated by the song's refrain ("he's a honky tonk man/but he wants to be a honky tonk woman"). (Lasso Records at 800-391-1854 or send $18 to Ruthie and the Wranglers, 7004 Westmoreland Av., Takoma Park, MD 20912)