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Wednesday, October 27, 1999

High lonesome rose

Posted By on Wed, Oct 27, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Sally Timms is known for her estimable vocal contributions to the Mekons, a 20-year-old punk-turned-reggae-turned-country-turned-avant-garde-rock group that continues to record. Her voice is one of the high points on classic Mekons recordings, such as So Good It Hurts and Curse of the Mekons. On those records, Timms’ singing stands out like a single rose amid a bouquet of rough-and-tumble gardenias. With her second full-length solo disc, Timms slows things down considerably and performs as her alter ego, Cowboy Sally. Surrounded by some of Chicago’s more talented musicians who play what they like to call "Insurgent Country," Timms’ glorious voice is put to good use. Besides a great rendition of Johnny Cash’s "Cry Cry Cry," Cowboy Sally interprets the compositions of fellow Mekon Jon Langford, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Nashville exile Robbie Fulks and the Handsome Family’s depressive love couple, Brett and Rennie Sparks.

A charming collection of songs with traditionalist C&W roots, Twilight Laments showcases the glorious melancholy of Timms’ backwater muse.

Her dramatic reading of Guy Lawrence’s "Dreaming Cowboy" is as pure as a mountain stream and stands up there with the best of such country divas as Kitty Wells or Patsy Cline. With Jessica Billey and Andrew Bird contributing authentic fiddle playing and Jon Rauhouse laying down some great steel guitar, this record has a high, lonesome feel that’s not always present on the latest album by Ms. Shania Twain. Trust a bawdy gal from England to play American country music good and proper.

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