A female duet, Po' Girl is Allison Russell and Awna Teixeira with Benny Sidelinger as the third leg in a tripod plus a number of specialist sessioneers. The core duo sings and then plays a wealth of instruments (guitar, banjo, clarinet, accordion, electric bass, gutbucket bass, glockenspiel, wurlitzer, bicycle bell, flat footing, foot stomps, and hand claps) with Sidelinger, also a whiz at several axes, filling in where needed. The sound is old-timey, at times lullaby-ish (title cut), wistful (Bloom), delicate (Shorty Town), and prairie carny (One Little City), among enticing oddities and unorthodoxies. Elements of downtoners Tori Amos and Rickie Lee Jones, the country side of Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman and others come peeking out, though only Newman would consider publishing an entire cycle this interestingly steeped in bygone times and ways, Gandy Dancer being the most emblematic track, a turn of the century number evoking sepia tones and high bustles. Echoes of the saloon and cathouse have their way here as well, as the music is most often shaded with corruption, despair, ennui, and pleasures that don't exactly lead to ecstasy, 'smiling over pictures of a girl with a mind like glass / clear and sharp but shattered' (from Isobel). So, no, you probably won't be playing this for the next chapter meeting of the local glee club, but the Goth crowd and Sylvia Plath Appreciation Society will likely take a very pronounced shine to it. Deer in the Night is definitely for cultured and slightly warped tastes, not all that distant from, oh say, the Cowboy Junkies and that ilk. Put on the spurs or "bustier", depending on your preference, and walk out into the sun and dust, but don't smile and always be looking over your shoulder.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles