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World Music CD Reviews North American

TIN HAT TRIO

By MARIE ELSIE ST. LÉGER
Published March 3, 2006

The Rodeo Eroded
Rope-a-Dope/Restless

Tin Hat Trio’s Mark Orton, Carla Kihlstedt and Rob Burger trump all categories. What Tin Hat Trio offers could be called the real alt-country, but why set limitations? Punk’s attitude, hip-hop’s brashness, jazz’s adventurousness: All can be heard—if not discernible in the notes, then at least in Orton, Kihlstedt and Burger’s approach to their material. Kihlstedt (violin, viola, trumpet violin and vocals) and Burger (piano, accordion, field organ, celeste, harmonicas) nearly always take the instrumental lead—taking the listener, for instance, on a disjointed ride on “Sweep”—but Orton, who wrote nine of the 14 originals here, provides unshakable rhythm and welcome nuance, whether on guitar, banjo or Dobro. There’s a bit of France mixed with Mexico (Burger’s accordion fills “Fear Of The South”), a touch of romance (the Tin Pan Alley-era “Willow Weep For Me,” sung with warmth by guest Willie Nelson; “Happy Hour”), a dash of daring (“Holiday Joel”), a hint of loneliness (“The Last Cowboy”) and a dose of humor (“Under The Gun”). The Rodeo Eroded is quite a ride, one that should be taken more than once.