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Loomer

Songs of the Wild West Island – 2006 (Newtone)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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There are a number of names in the pantheon of artists who use country music as the springboard to more invigorating and experimental sonic expressions, from Ryan Adams (and his various band guises) to Wilco to Son Volt to the Jayhawks. This illustrious roll call needs to be lengthened by at least one name - the Canadian sextet Loomer, led by songwriter par excellence Scott Loomer.

The band's 2004 debut, "Love is a Dull Instrument," inspired comparisons to Gram Parsons, Uncle Tupelo and the Velvet Underground and earned the album lavish praise and best-of-year status among a lot of critics. Loomer's latest matches and surpasses the level established by its predecessor, from the powerfully atmospheric opening track, "Bang the Nails," to the Gary Louris-meets-James McMurtry swing of "Anastasia" to the double clutched twang of "Dirt Angel" to the scuffed heartache of "Turnbuckle" to the Vigilantes of Love swagger of "Sunday Driver Down."

Like his south-of-the-northern-border brethren, Scott Loomer and his crack band understands the electric and eclectic web that connects the power of rock to the passion of country to the introspection of folk and the inherent wisdom in throwing them all into the musical cement mixer to see what happens. In Loomer's case, it's alt.-country perfection. (loomeronline.com)