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CD Review: Rosie Flores and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts

Girl of the Century (Bloodshot)

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Though clocking in at less than 38 minutes, rockabilly queen Rosie Flores' latest album is packed with retro-country attitude. She kicks things off with a swingin', swayin' rendition of Memphis Minnie's "Chauffeur," which has never sounded better. There's tons of hiccupy Brenda Lee sass on rockers like "This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'" and "This Cat's in the Doghouse." It's great to hear a woman's take on Calvin Carter's classic blues burner "I Ain't Got You." "Dark Enough at Midnight" has a Tom Waits-meets-Angelo Badalamenti quality. The title track grabs a page from Neko Case's book with its prairie spaciousness and magical realist lyrics.

An otherwise strong disc is marred by superfluous backing vocals. "Halfway Home" could be a Springsteenish outlaw anthem if it weren't for the weak arrangement and trite male backup vocals. "Little Bells" is hackneyed, with a too-slick vocal harmony by collaborator Jon Langford, whose Welsh lilt doesn't sit comfortably with Flores' Texas twang on the Conway-and-Loretta/Johnny-and-June-inspired "Who's Gonna Take Your Garbage Out." Langford does yeoman's work directing the Pine Valley Cosmonauts in their backing duties, however. The guitars are appropriately crunchy, the pedal steel is fittingly weepy and the rhythm has a solid push to it. It's a worthy addition to a string of collaborations by the group that stretches back to 1994. — Peggy Latkovich

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