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Motel Mirrors

In the Meantime – 2018 (Last Chance Records)

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

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CDs by Motel Mirrors

Motel Mirrors is a Memphis-based genre crossing quartet, centered on three-part harmonies, the lovely voice of Amy LaVere, contributions from three strong songwriters and two respected guitarists. Just as many of their Memphis predecessors crossed into different sounds, Motel Mirrors has some country, some soul, and plenty of Americana.

Singer/bassist LaVere, originally from the Texas/Louisiana border, has been a Memphis mainstay for years, having worked frequently with Luther Dickinson and other major Memphis musicians. Add her husband, killer guitarist and singer Will Sexton, formerly from Austin, along with kindred spirit, singer/guitarist John Paul Keith, who relocated from Knoxville several years ago, and drummer Shawn Zorn, a Memphis original. Eric Lewis adds pedal steel to the last three tracks.

Notably, Scott Bomar of the Bo-Keys handled the recording and engineering, using an "old school" approach, cutting and mixing the album on analog tape, using a limited eight-track setup. Going in, the musicians knew that they didn't have the luxury of overdubs, forcing them to very selective in their choices, and in their listening to each other to create the warm intimacy that comes through on the album.

Motel Mirrors' harmonious three voices unmistakably evoke the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison and classic sounds of past eras while remaining just contemporary enough. While the focus is mostly on melodic vocals, the guitar interplay of Keith and Sexton adds some kick to the overall effect.

The album begins with "I Wouldn't Dream of It" with three-part harmonies and twangy guitars. LaVere has a smooth sultry voice, heard best on "Things I Learned," "Dead of Winter Blues," "Loving in the Morning" and the title track. Keith's "Let Me Be Sweet to You" has a gorgeous melody while Sexton's "Do With Me What You Want" is vintage rock n' roll. "Remember When You Gave a Damn" evokes the Everly Brothers. "Paper Doll" calls up The Traveling Wilburys and "Loving in the Morning" channels Johnny Cash's Tennessee 3 with LaVere's upright bass line.

Whether it's country waltzes, glorious harmonies, infectious hooks, or deft picking Motel Mirrors satisfies on all those levels.