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White Rabbit Salad

Trouble in Town – 2020 (REGI Music Records)

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

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CDs by White Rabbit Salad

"Trouble in Town" is the fourth album from Texas-based duo Wild Rabbit Salad. In the true tradition of Americana, they mix blues, folk and country with an obvious nod to Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt. There are two Townes' covers, "Tecumseh Valley," sung by classically trained Marietta Roebuck, and "Waiting Around to Die," sung by guitarist and vocalist Bucky Goldberg. The two generally alternate lead vocals or duet together. They are supported by a small cast that usually has Marty Naul on drums, Mike Delmonico or Mark McSwain on bass, Wayne Wilkerson on guitar and Madeline Herdeman on cello, clearly the instrumental star of the group.

The opening "Drop Top Cadillac," released as a single, has strains that echo Hank's "Ramblin' Man" and is performed as a duet, punctuated with guitar licks from Wilkerson. Roebuck's version of "Tecumseh Valley" is not nearly as mournful as the famous Nanci Griffith interpretation as the music floats gently until the abrupt ending, which does detract a little bit from an otherwise nice interpretation. It's one of Townes' best songs and quite interesting to hear almost any interpretation of it. This one reveals the pristine beauty of Roebuck's voice with ambience due mostly to Herdeman's cello.

The other most fully developed piece is Goldberg's "Mine No. 9," done as a duet, that will remind many listeners of those classic mining and train songs like "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore." The main storyteller here is Goldberg, who delivers the requisite emotive touch as Roebuck echoes the chorus.

The others, all in the two or three minute range, offer some singalong passages, the best being the tongue-in-cheek "Everybody Loves My Hat," another radio friendly offering. Goldberg's "Waiting Around to Die" is not nearly as bleak as the original, thankfully. True to their band name, the duo does a great job of mixing subject, tempos and voices. Roebuck's voice, on :"Killing Flood In Houston," (also imbued with a frantic cello solo) for example, together with strong songwriting and daring Van Zandt interpretations make for an enjoyable listen.