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The Hideaways - The Whiskey Tango Sessions
By Jon Stewart - 04/30/2007 - 11:55 AM EDT

Artist: The Hideaways
Album: The Whiskey Tango Sessions
Genre: Americana
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Don't Try and Love Me, Stranger's Heart
Weakness: Still needs some style and better storytelling
CD Review:
One of my favorite styles of music is Americana which often is hidden under Alt Country or some other innocuous name. Steve Earle represents the height of storytelling for this genre, frequently inspired by historical fact and fiction but also putting all of us under his microscope for observation. The Hideaways take a slightly different approach, opting solely for the perspective of America today, dirty fingernails and all. Their success depends on the songwriting skills of three of the bands members: Phil Bensimon, bassist; Rian Green, Guitarist; and Keith Haman, guitarist. They each do the primary vocals on the songs they contribute much as the Beatles used to do.

The twelve songs on this CD cover a variety of subjects. I found the best song to be the first track “Don’t Try and Love Me” which presupposes that a note of caution carries any weight in affairs of the heart; it might even stoke the fire. So what we have is the ultimate cop out in the game of broken hearts. And we are able to see how some people can justify anything they do. “Stranger’s Heart” is a song about falling for someone you don’t know and risking your whole relationship with the heart you do know. The pedal guitar is simply amazing with how it underlines the heartache to come. The unusual vocal style reflects an awareness of this topic as if it has been lived and agonized over. This is the most emotional song on the CD while also being one of the most danceable. Overall, I found the songwriting to vary considerably as might be expected when so many songwriters are involved. One of the problems with multiple songwriters is that if they are all members of the band, how do you decide which songs to publish? But the variety I’m referencing isn’t good versus bad as there is a consistency in the quality of the songwriting. I’m talking about style. Style can take a string of clichés and make them fresh and rewarding and the Hideaways do this on several of the remaining songs.

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