Deadstring Brothers: Sao Paulo

RIYL: Rolling Stones, Black Crowes, Gram Parsons

Armed with both a rock ‘n’ roll swagger that befits a band from Detroit, and an English retro feel courtesy of a pair of British expatriates, the Deadstring Brothers meld their disparate influences with an intrinsic roots rock insurgence. In fact, on first hearing. the Deadstringers are dead ringers for the Stones, thanks in large part to singer Kurt Marschke’s Jagger-esque slur and moan. And, given the band’s penchant for haggard, bottleneck ballads and a weathered sprawl, a similarity in sound to classic albums like Beggars Banquet, Exile on Main Street and Let It Be becomes all but unavoidable. Toss in the decadent influences of Gram Parsons and a hint of Steve Earle, and the quartet’s synthesis of heartland sentiment and Brit-rock precepts becomes practically seamless.

With that in mind, any sense that Sao Paulo would find the band opting for a marked change in direction via a bossa nova beat or a south of the border flair becomes completely mistaken. The title track bleeds dark desperation, its gaunt, bittersweet delivery finding a comfortable fit with the band’s usual mix of back-alley narratives and sneering arch defiance. The brash rebellion inherent in “Houston,” “The River Song” and “It’s A Shame” affirm the quartet’s antagonistic attitude before ceding the spotlight to the weary circumspect awash in the album’s final trio of entries, “The Same Old Rule,” “Yesterday’s Style” and “Always a Friend of Mine.” The common thread that lingers throughout is an unmistakable sense of disillusionment that embellishes every note and nuance, painting San Paulo as a place most adventure-seekers would probably choose to avoid altogether. (Bloodshot 2009)

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