Reference CD Review: The Subdudes

Street Symphony Back Porch
Music ••••• Sound ••••½

The Subdudes have not been subdued by the calamities that befell New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In fact, this veteran roots band has risen to the occasion with fire and determination on its best album since its self-titled 1989 debut. These guys are symbiotic stylists, tossing into the gumbo pot some soulful doo-wop harmonies ("Stranger," "Absolutely"), scraggly folk-rock ("Fair Weather Friend"), tasty double-lead-guitar lines riding the funk ("Fountain of Youth"), sleepy-eyed blues-rock ("Work Clothes"), and even a tear-in-the-beer ballad that would pass muster on country radio ("Half of the Story"). The sound of New Orleans seasons everything with a still-zesty spirit. And to top it all off, "I'm Your Town" paints an anthemic, bittersweet portrait of America that stands with the best musings on that subject by Springsteen, Seger, and Mellencamp. Overstatement? Hardly. Street Symphony is as perfect an album as I've heard so far this century.

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