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Star Hustler

Songs for Betty – 2000 (Dirt)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Star Hustler

If Jason Hatfield had nothing else to lay claim to in his career, he could at least say that he's prolific. His rootsy Star Hustler has put out a trio of albums since 1995, with this the fourth in the past five years. Luckily, Hatfield has more than just quantity on his mind, and each Star Hustler release has offered a rising level of expertise and expectation.

Songs for Betty, like its predecessors, offers an amazing sonic palette that references Grant Lee Buffalo and Neil Young ("Stargazing Lily," "Downfall"), Jules Shear, and Uncle Tupelo and its many generations ("Cool December Street," the cover of Townes Van Zandt's "White Freightliner"). Hatfield seems to relish the tension between fuzzed out rock convention and amped up steel guitar and banjo, sometimes all within the same song. With a Byrdsian delicacy and a Slobberbone grit, Jason Hatfield and Star Hustler are finding a comfortable spot in the gray area between roots that rock and rock with roots.