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The Steam Donkeys

Cosmic Americana – 1997 (Landslide)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by The Steam Donkeys

With an album title that alludes to Gram Parson's self-described "Cosmic American Music" Buffalo's Steam Donkeys bravely set a lofty goal for themselves. While not as compelling as Parsons's 70's masterpieces, the Steam Donkeys deliver an impressive, if inconsistent, country-rock record.

Vocalist/songwriter Buck Quigley provides most of the material, while musically Doug Moody leads the way with his rocking fiddle. Lyrically, Quigley is best at the plaintive love ballad, such as "The Only One Who Cares" and "Silly Clown." The attempts at humor on "Grampa's Thunderbird" and "Put Your Money Where My Mouth Is" don't work as well. The "bonus" live tracks are a highlight, particularly the Donkeys' version of Parsons's "How Much I Lied." Moody shines on the train medley that includes "Mystery Train" and "Folsom Prison Blues."

While this fails to live up to its portentious title, it's good enough to create hopeful anticipation of their next release.