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Tom Russell

Hotwalker – 2005 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

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CDs by Tom Russell

Tom Russell takes a trip to the circus and a hard right south of the border on his latest, a fevered rumination on all sorts of faded Americana. You'll hear carny talk in the title track, Mexican horns in "Border Lights" and spoken word meditations throughout. You hear name-checks of Charles Bukowski and ? and the Mysterians, and shouts, hoots and hollers throughout. Fiddles, guitar and voice lace together into an ambitious narrative that will take you from Gram Parsons to Dave Van Ronk to Charlie Chaplin.

This is less an album than a travelogue through American archetypes and myths. "Hotwalker" is not for those who want to tap their toes and dance, but, instead, offers a great side trip for listeners who want to know where today's country and roots music got some of its start, plus a variety of ruminations on other subjects, too.

Ultimately, "Hotwalker" is a celebration of voices that are no longer talking, but that remain prominent in our collective memory.