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Marti Brom

Not For Nothin' – 2010 (Goofin/Ripsaw)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Marti Brom

A tribute to the Washington, D.C. area music scene, Marti Brom's first full-length album in five years ranks might be her best. Alternating twin-fiddle led traditional country with twang-laden rockabilly and fat brassy r&b the 15-song set contains top-notch cover song choices, smart originals and a memorable duet with Dieselbilly king Bill Kirchen.

Singing with greater range and confidence, the Missouri-native has transformed such chestnuts as I Get the Blues When It Rains into appealing Western Swing and Elvis Presley's A Fool Such As I into a torchy honky tonk shuffle. Further, Brom has rediscovered her Patsy Cline vibrato for stellar renditions of Write Me in Care of the Blues, Mascara Tears, Never No More and the Teri Joyce-penned Something Blue. Two of the best pure country moments come courtesy of guest guitarist/singer Bill Kirchen, who plays catchy baritone guitar on his song Get a Little Goner and aides Brom in turning Nat Stuckey's 1966 hit Sweet Thang into a sassy roadhouse romp.

That said, the true flavor of this album comes from the rhythm numbers. Producer Peter Bonta's use of an r&b horn section combined with snarling rockabilly guitar and raking boogie piano provide a solid, jump groove on Ruth Brown's Sweet Baby of Mine and Sister Wynona Carr's Finders Keepers. Equally compelling is the writhing exotica/rockabilly noir of the Sean Mencher tune Not for Nothin'. When it comes time to flat out rock, Brom is not shy: she burns through her versions of Tex Rubinowitz's Feelin' Right Tonight and Pat Brown's "Forbidden Fruit.

Brom is a fine tunesmith in her own right so it is a bit disappointing that the artist didn't author anything here. However, the song choices and sequencing are excellent, the production and musical execution set a high standard, and Brom herself has never sounded so inspired.