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The Dead Reckoners

A Night of Reckoning – 2002 (Dead Reckoning)

Reviewed by Roy Kasten

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CDs by The Dead Reckoners

This collection captures some of the Dead Reckoning label's communal, hard rootsy style, even if it never lives up to their live shows. The material from the group, led by songwriters Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch, violinist Tammy Rogers, guitarist Mike Henderson and drummer Harry Stinson, has an undercurrent of dark passion, broken only by a couple of ballads.

The CD highlights instrumental (and not lyrical) skill. "Rocky Road" is a high point, a tour de force for Stinson's lap-held tom, Rogers and Fats Kaplan's dual fiddles, Henderson's angular electric riffs, and the resplendent harmonies of Kane and Rogers. Live, the song was epic; this studio take is more restrained and lovely. There's plenty of smoldering country in all of these 10 songs; there's also a few disappointments (the everybody-takes-a-verse jam "Workin On It" sounds like alienated labor).

This is not a devastating record from the cooperative alternative to today's Music Row sound and business and not really up to the label's standards, but a spirited country recording nonetheless.