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The Deadly Gentlemen

Roll Me, Tumble Me – 2013 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by The Deadly Gentlemen

With their third release, the Boston-based the Deadly Gentlemen deliver a mix of bluegrass, folk, pop and rock. Banjoist Greg Liszt (formerly of Crooked Still and Bruce Springsteen's touring band) wrote all 10 songs for the project, including re-workings of some past compositions.

Though not as overtly comical as the Austin Lounge Lizards much of Liszt's writing is humorous, including the title track (previously recorded for their 2008 album "The Bastard Masterpiece") with observations such as "You can batter me with bitchery, or be buttery be savory/When I'm broke hey it's OK, pay for me don't pay for me" and "Make me high and fiery, make me sigh and tire me/You can even evilly eye me till I die entirely." Similarly in Working (also a retread from 2008), Liszt takes comfort in the daily grind ("Work's not bad and work's not hard, I don't kill chickens or break rocks in a yard/Work's not bad and it's not that tough, I'm not breaking my neck, or my back, or my balls in the rough.").

Liszt is equally at ease with more serious matters as in the philosophical A Faded Star in which he muses "Fate itself is the strangest force/Change yourself and you'll change its course." In Now Is Not the Time Liszt laments mistakes from the past ("I left so many days, so many years ago/Now one at a time I'm running out of years to blow").

In addition to Liszt's impressive banjo work the musicianship is solid throughout, with Mike Barnett on fiddle, Sam Grisman (son of famed mandolinist David Grisman) on bass, Dominick Leslie on mandolin and Stash Wyslouch on guitar. Though Wyslouch is listed as lead vocalist his voice is never isolated, but is always supported by slick harmonies from his band mates.

With strong tunes and stellar performances, this collection should satisfy not only fans of alt.-country and bluegrass but have indie-folk and pop/rock appeal as well.