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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Stacy Antonel

Always the Outsider

Review by Gary Hill

While this album isn't really within the zone of the kind of music I listen to most often, I can certainly appreciate the effort. This leans in varying degrees on country music. At the most extreme end it feels like retro country music on a song or two. At the other side of the spectrum there are some country leanings built into songs that focus on other musical styles. The vocals are the one constant, and they work well. So does the variety shown. There is only one point where this feels a little redundant. While there are stronger songs and weaker ones, everything here works well.

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Track by Track Review
Always the Outsider
A classy modern song with plenty of vintage country music in the mix, this is catchy and has a strong vocal performance. I love how the slide pedal steel guitar dances all over this thing.
Karmic Cord
I wouldn't quite call this a ballad, but it is a slower and mellower piece than the opener was, particularly as it gets going. The country elements are downplayed a little from the first one, but only a little. The guitar takes on almost a jazz vibe at times. As good as the title track was, this is a stronger piece.
Kicking and Screaming
I like the sort of country rock vibe to this. It's another standout. It is more on the mid-tempo end of the spectrum, and has some more jazz elements at play at points. As good as the first two tracks were, I think this is even stronger.
Planetary Heartache
While there are still country things at play here, the jazz concepts are the biggest element at play here. This is very potent, but perhaps the first point where it drops a little for me. The pedal steel work mid-track reinforces the country angles.
Heartbroken Tomorrow
More energetic and purely country rocking, this is a fun romp that has some smoking hot jamming later. Again, it's not up to the level of the first songs for me, but it is a new angle and works well.
Absent Captain
More of a mainstream melodic, mid-tempo rock song, this still has some hints of country in the mix. It's another standout track. It has a lot of drama and style.
Texas Lasts Forever
Now, this one takes a turn toward really old-time, slow shuffling country music. I love the guitar work on it, but it's not my favorite thing here.
You Can't Trust Fate
Another that's more fully set on the country end of the spectrum, this is another effective song. It includes plenty of pedal steel guitar work.
I Talk When I'm Nervous
Another mellow and slow country-styled tune, this is the first place on the album where it starts to feel a little samey. This is not bad, but probably the weakest thing on the disc.
Not Looking for Love
This gets some mild parental advisories for the lyrics. It's more of a rock song, but not a fierce one. There is still plenty of country in the mix, though.
Better Late Than Never
Another that gets a minor advisory for the lyrics, this is a more rocking country styled number. It's energetic, catchy and fun. It's one of the highlights here for me.
Save Your Breath (Bonus Track)
This might be a bonus, but it's another standout. This is very much a jazz romp with some country flavorings. Not only is it a great song, but it also provides a healthy helping of variety.
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