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Double Back – 2002 (Okra-Tone)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by Hazeldine

Formed in the mid-90's in Albuquerque, N.M., Hazeldine was one of the next-big-things of alternative country that turned into latest-alternative-country-band-to-be-dumped-by-a-major-label. Their would-be debut on Universal, "Digging You Up," was shelved in 1998 after the label's merger with Seagrams and never released domestically, so here we are in 2002 and Hazeldine is releasing an album of original material in the U.S. for the first time.

And "double back" gives us a good idea of what caused the stir in the first place. Produced by former power-popper Chris Stamey (Caitlin Cary, Thad Cockrell, Alejandro Escovedo), the album crawls along with the so-sweet melodies, gorgeous vocals and smart and sad lyrics of Shawn Barton, Tonya Lamm and Anne Tkach. The honky tonk riff that opens "Broken Glass" is about as fast-paced as the slow-simmering "double back" gets. Standouts include the sexy "Body and Soul" and "Rostock," which concludes the album like a lazy afternoon epic with wailing guitars and soulful organ. Be a good American and do your part to welcome Hazeldine to the country.