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Fate McCobb

Hillbilly Death Songs – 1999 (Willow Branch)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Fate McCobb

It's been said that there's nothing new under the sun and songs about death, murder, and pacts with Old Scratch are all the proof you'll ever need. Why, they're as American as apple pie and baseball in the summertime! There isn't a bluesman worth his salt who can't whip off a version of "Hellhound On My Trail," nor a folk singer that can't dust off a version of "Knoxville Girl" should the occasion merit.

Enter Fate McCobb, a Boston-based foursome that a more flippant reviewer might term "goth-country." Songs about death and darkness are as old as country music itself.

And while this isn't going to make anyone forget the Louvin Brothers' classic 1956 album "Tragic Songs of Life" anytime soon - it's a more than a little too self-consciously post-modern to manage that - it's not bad. Bassist/vocalist McGregor McGehee has a solid tenor that doesn't really capture the pathos of classics like "Wreck On the Highway" and "Long Black Limousine" in the way that the Louvins or Wynn Stewart could, but songs like the hilarious "Calling In Dead" and "Thirteen Steps Away" are in capable hands. (Willow Branch Records at (508) 785-3009)