The Unfaithful Ways: Free Rein (Native Tongue)

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The Unfaithful Ways: Yesterday I Loved You But Today I Just Don't Care
The Unfaithful Ways: Free Rein (Native Tongue)

While so many educated urbanites who never be caught dead chopping wood by lamplight have immersed themselves in a kind of rural Americana, this group out of earthquake damaged Christchurch look to a less explored tradition, straight country music without the "alt." prefix.

And that makes them very refreshing . . . although that seems an odd thing to say about lyrics which speak of being faithless, jaded, heartbroken and loveless.

Yet by the sheer consistency and persuasiveness of their creative voice (all four sing and write), the arrangements for organ, fiddle, banjo and pedal steel etc, and that their songs have a timeless quality (rain, home, snow, being drunk and stoned out of loneliness) you tend to believe then when they sing a line as soaked in age and weariness as "I've seen more trouble than most people could ever dream of".

That line is on Twenty Nine Days sung in a plaintive voice (about waiting for a lover, and with a great guitar part as the centrepiece), but immediately after is the dark brown Ain't Got Time which takes the contrary position.

And the album opens with Yesterday I Loved You But Today I Just Don't Care which is a funny and honest as it is cynical. Then again, there's also the sentimental House for Two and the sly To Get To Your Heart ("I'm using my friends").

And Restless, Reckless and Ready is a tongue-in-cheek twanger which manages to throw a few knowing cliches around. 

There's a lot of breadth here, some terrific songs and -- given that demolished building on the back cover was their studio -- they seem to have earned the right to sings these songs which sometimes sound wise beyond their years.

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