Carrie Rodriguez: Seven Angels on a Bicycle (EMI)

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Carrie Rodriguez: He Ain't Jesus
Carrie Rodriguez: Seven Angels on a Bicycle (EMI)

This album came out late last year but went largely ignored, even by me until I discovered it in a pile recently. And I'm very glad I did.

Probably only known for her singing and fiddle playing with the great songwriter Chip Taylor -- check their 2005 Red Dog Tracks album -- this is Rodriguez' solo debut, and it's a real showcase.

With avant-guitarist Bill Frisell, pedal steel player Greg Leisz, jazz saxophist Javier Vercher (her husband), Taylor on acoustic guitar and a rhythm section -- most of whom were deployed to very different effect on Red Dog Tracks -- she states very clearly she has moved out of the bluegrass and onto higher ground.

But not entirely: she still cracks a bit of downhome fiddle playing, but elsewhere she gets away some dirty and sexually-powered blues, works the alt.rock end of country, and delivers some engaging and up-close original songs.

She's still a country girl (it's those white hand-tooled boots on the cover really, isn't it?) but the country isn't the same anymore -- so nor is she.

This is urbane and sophisticated, but still ragged enough to be earthy and personal. It's diverse so no one track is emblematic, but I like the edgy ones.

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