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Nola Rose & the Thorns

Thought I Heard an Angel – 1996 (RoseKing)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Nola Rose & the Thorns

The debut from Boston's topnotch country band sizzles. From the opening lines of the Stonesish "I'll Call When I'm Ready" to a song made famous by Mick "It's All Over Now," singer Nola Rose Shepherd and the Thorns showcase their country smarts and licks.

Shepherd's vocals sound strong and vibrant throughout in the Heather Myles vein, though Shepherd is even better live where she tends to let loose more. Shepherd, who co-produced, sings with confidence, feeling and attitude ("I'm Guilty"with lots of bass and twang). The playing of guitarists Tom Yates and Phil Lipman and the rhythm section of guest bassist Sandy Martin and The Thorns' Scott Sherman on drums provides capable backing ammo. Yates provides a good duet foil in their bouncy, bluegrass cover of Dwight Yoakam's "Bury Me" with snappy fiddle playing from guest player Matt Leavenworth. The band composed all but two of the dozen songs, and they're strong ones at that, showcasing different styles while still maintaining a musical identity. Yates' acoustic gives a Spanish flavor to "Something's Going On."

Rose & The Thorns come out smelling sweet.