The Blueflowers get darker on 'At the Edge of Disaster'

The first time we saw the Blueflowers live a few years ago, our impression was that — while having no doubts concerning the quality of musicianship and songwriting — they were a touch (pardon the impending series of obvious references here) flowery for our taste. But with age, those flowers have hardened into something a little drier, a little darker (ahem, bluer), and this new darkness fits the country-noir atmosphere of At the Edge of Disaster like a glove.

On songs like "Grey Matter," lead singer Kate Hinote's vocals ring out with a clarity devoid of optimism — and that's a good thing. You might imagine this song playing as you walk into some bordertown bar deep in the Texas desert, a few sad souls with even sadder backstories nursing their sweating beers.

"A Little Is Too Much" is another open-plains weeper; this is country music far from the polish of Nashville, with the emphasis on the "Western" segment of the phrase. That said, ultimately this is a Detroit record, fitting in perfectly with our town's rich history of putting its own stamp on country music, from the York Brothers and Jack Scott to Goober and the Peas (of which member Dave Feeny contributes pedal steel guitar to devastating effect here).

We could go on with the superlatives, mentioning the Phil Spector-ish teen-symphony heartbreak pop of "Everywhere," or the dreamy narcotic ballad "In the Way," and the mastery of feel and tone of everyone in the band — but really we suggest you find out for yourself, because this is a great record. The Blueflowers claim that they're aiming for the heart — "not to warm it, but to break it." They hit the mark with this release. The inclusion of Patsy Cline's "Strange" is a fitting endcap to this set of songs, most of which are its equal. The tribute serves to draw a direct line from this record to that great, tragic singer — forever beautiful, forever heartbroken.

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