With his follow up to "Dead Reckoning," Kieran Kane has found a thick, pulsing sound to match songs of life lived the hard way. The opener "Table Top Dancer," is a working class story of a stripper who dances for "wages and tips": she doesn't "really like it, but it helps feed the kids." The finale, "J'Aime Faire L'Amour," on the other hand, encompasses as much trip-hop as country. As a steady percussive loop plays, Tammy Rogers' strings ride in and out, and Kane chants a refrain in French.
But the strongest songs aren't necessarily the ones taking the most musical chances. "In a Town this Size" - a graceful, mandolin touched ballad of small town gossip - and the straight country style of Johnny Bond's "I Wonder Where You Are Tonight" are two of the most satisfying tracks. Kane enlists the help of the Dead Reckoning collective on most tracks, but he plays many instruments himself, crafting a spacious, evocative sound that, even when the lyrics feel forced (the unconvincing stabs at evil on "Kill the Demon" and "To Whom It May Concern"), help make these 13 songs serious, involving music.