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Honky Tonk Chateau

Walk in the Sun – 2003 (Slewfoot)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Honky Tonk Chateau

With a whiskey-voiced frontwoman and a foundation of chugging country-tinged roots rock, Honky Tonk Chateau capably recalls the glory days of Cheri Knight and the Blood Oranges.

Those are hard boots to fill completely, and HTC still has a little road to travel yet; Sheri Hurst has a nice vocal presence with a tendency to veer into the edgy territory staked out by Lucinda Williams ("Chalk It Up," "Fate"), and the band has plenty of chops, but are still swinging just this side of the Oranges's heartbreaking soul.

Bassist Matt Netzer's vocal appearances nod in the direction of T-Bone Burnett ("Twenty Six Miles," "Hit You Too Hard") while guitarist Mike Stevens cuts a Steve Earle figure through his tracks ("Let You Go," "Long Holidays," "Distraction"). The Missouri quartet is obviously helped a great deal by sympathetic production from local legend Lou Whitney, making this a fine place to start working toward something with just a touch more musical substance.