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Fred Eaglesmith

50 Odd Dollars – 1999 (Razor & Tie)

Reviewed by James Mann

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CDs by Fred Eaglesmith

Long regarded as one of the finer songwriters in the country/folk/rock arena, Fred Eaglesmith casts an ear toward the lo-fi end of things with his new release. His lyrical stocks in trade - cars and crazed women - are further explored, along with poignant bits of everyday life such as "Rodeo Boy" and "Crazier."

Those expecting countryish-folk might be surprised. The opening "Blue Tick Hound," is a dead ringer for Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks," if The Band had done a cover version way back when. "Steel Guitar" drifts along in an almost Stereolab electronic-lounge groove, but never strays too far from Eaglesmith's country roots.

But it's on "Carter," his ode to the late Carter Stanley, that Eaglesmith shines. In a plaintive voice he paints a vivid picture of a world that is a lesser place " that Carter's gone." The song brings this varied album full circle and pays a mighty fine tribute as well.