CD Review: Cracker, "Countrysides" (iMusic)
What began as Cracker's sociological experiment--playing outlaw-country covers in biker bars under the nom de musique Ironic Mullet--has resulted in an album that somehow comes across as poignant social commentary.
If there's a unifying thread in this oddball collection, it's the hopeless plight of the little guy--whether it's Bruce Springsteen's meth-cooking illegal immigrants in "Sinaloa Cowboys," Dwight Yoakam's heartbroken protagonist in "Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room," or the major-label woes of Cracker itself in "Ain't Gonna Suck Itself," the album's lone original.
There aren't any happy endings in the bunch. Most characters act out as the hopeless often do--with unapologetic violence, toward others or themselves. And it's worth noting that Cracker's Ironic Mullet experiment took place in the wake of Sept. 11, an event that left a whole country feeling powerless.
Then again, "Countrysides" is a funny album, too. A re-working of the obscure Ike Reilly song "Duty Free" is catchier than the original, and has the added bonus of the line "College drunks kicking pigeons in the asses." And Cracker obviously turned to the bottle before hitting the Record button on Merle Haggard's "The Bottle Let Me Down."
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