By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
The oldest song is the deadliest, and the most pitiless. A dark, chilling spangle of notes opens "Pretty Polly," its darkness like a warning of death: "I used to be a rambler, I stayed around in town/I courted pretty Polly, and the beauty has never been found." The relentless planging propels without mercy toward the murder to come: "Pretty Polly, pretty
Polly, you're guessing about right/I dug on your grave two-thirds of last night." (Ending not happy.)
Dock gets wacky, too. "Hard Luck Blues" is my kind of cartoony tune: "Got me a cat and a piece of cheese, I placed it on her chin/Wife got frightened in her sleep one night, she took the rat, cat and cheese all in." So there it is; take it - an old ghost for to haunt you. Hail Boggs! (Tony Mostrom)
River Under the Road (Lazy SOB Recordings)
Yes, early-20-something Ana Egge sounds older than she is, precociousness having become as popular in country music as it has in basketball or violent crime. I'm much more impressed, frankly, by this Austin-via-New Mexico newcomer's deceptively languid wariness. In her best songs, she sounds small-town in a way that has nothing to do with practiced rural authenticity - vigilant, in other words. Willing to consider you, but not necessarily biased in your favor.
River Under the Road, Egge's debut CD, boasts numerous appealing songs and a few terrific ones, all sympathetically performed by pedigreed Austin backing musicians. Highlights include the title track, a rolling, faintly mystical meditation co-written with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and "Fairest of Them All," which illustrates everything thrilling in Egge's delivery. It's hard to say what feels so rotten in this catchy, catty little gone-to-the-city tale, but the feeling stems straight from the extra beat Egge inserts in the line about "red, red lipstick." With no theatrics, no throat-growling, just rhythm, Egge delivers a condemnation that has nothing to do with principles; it's personal, and permanent. And fierce.
Her weepies don't work so well. The problem is partly lyrics (too many brambles and roses), partly delivery. Like many young Austiners, Egge strives so hard for plainness that she sometimes achieves it. But she's a sensitive, potent performer, and when she sings about "a town of 50 people/who like to sit and stare," you can feel their eyes on you. (Glen Hirshberg)