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Saltgrass

These Days – 2000 (Puddledock)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by Saltgrass

As the Violent Femmes once giddily asked, Do you like American music? Well, yes, and Saltgrass shows why there is so much to like about American music. Max Rollo is the talented singer-songwriter behind Saltgrass, his one-man American roots band featuring a revolving door supporting cast.

Produced by Jeffrey Reed (Blue Mountain/ Rocket From the Crypt), this is the native Texan's second release. Lyrically, he has a lot in common with Tennessean Kevin Gordon, telling tales of lonely and well-worn characters, spent from working for the blue collar dollar and trying to keep their hearts in one piece. But musically Rollo goes for a much softer sound than Gordon. Rollo has a few good country rockers ("Peel Me Off the Wall," "Second Chance"), but for the most part, this is as enjoyably spare as the ragged Fender amp that graces the CD cover. The sad motel shuffle "Life Without You" and the aching "Stole" sway along with Jeff Allen¦s steel guitar at the forefront. "Lay This Burden" is slightly riled bluegrass that features the fine picking of mandolin player Brian Ledford of the Kudzu Kings and banjo player Thomas Moss. "These Days" is a pleasurable helping of good American music.