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  • Rich Kassirer

CD Review: Zoe Muth's gone country... by way of Seattle


(Out now)

“Check out one of the best discoveries the EJB has made on the road…the great Zoe Muth!”

This note by the Eilen Jewell Band on its Facebook page in late July was our introduction to the up and coming “country” girl from Seattle.

Zoe Muth and her band the Lost High Rollers may be an anomaly in the Pacific Northwest, but their sound is faithful right down to its mandolin and banjo twang.

Muth’s voice falls somewhere between Emmylou and Dolly, with maybe a touch of Lucinda for spice, and is backed by the Lost High Rollers – Ethan Lawton on mandolin, Miguel Sala on bass, Greg Niews on drums, Dave Harmonson on guitars/pedal steel, Tyler Richart on backing vocals/tambourine. The band provides an authenticity that pleasantly transports you to a backporch on a hot southern night.

With the opening pedal steel licks of “You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying,’’ Muth pours out her heart as guitar mingles with mandolin and bass along bounces in the background. Honky-tonkin’ “Hey Little Darlin’ ’’ swings and “I Used to Call My Heart a Home” offers up those ol’ lonesome blues.

The cool thing about this album is that it does not come off as some country knock-off. We’ve seen Gillian Welch, a California girl, turn old-timey music on its ear with her own interpretation of the music. Zoe Muth, while not nearly as seasoned as Welch, seems to have taken a similar path: an outsider to the music she sings but true to its core.   The six-minute “The Last Bus” even meanders down a common stretch of road – a weary traveling companion – to Welch’s epic “I Dream a Highway.”

In fact, Muth’s debut album is filled with songs that sound like they’ve withstood the rigors of the long road of touring, worked out intimately in honky tonks from Seattle all the way to Nashville – even if to date Zoe and the band have made few excursions far outside their native state.

But it is only a matter of time before the group breaks out.

Songs like “Not You,’’ which sounds like it could have been penned by Loretta Lynn, is a my-man-done-me-wrong standout. Muth sings “I wish I didn’t even have to ask/where you were last night or the night before that…’’ and then she follows that up a few lines later with the tough-as-nails retort “… and if I want to start a fight/it wouldn’t be hard tonight/All I’d have to do is say/Hey, hey, not you.”

The album certainly hits all the touchstones of country music: heartache, lost love, scorned lovers, long roads, which the final track, the seven-minute “Never Be Fooled Again,’’ encompasses perfectly.

We certainly hope that Muth’s future travels lead her to a honky tonk bar near us.

To listen to tunes on Zoe’s album, click HERE

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