Album cover

Finest Qualities

1) My Seat at the Bar
2) Tongue Tied
3) Quicksand
4) Tijuana Jail
5) Hangin' On
6) Struttin'
7) Through the Night
8) Indian Summer
9) Jamie Girl
10) You Can't Hear Me
11) Rocky Mountain Lady

Shoestring Strap is a blue jeans and camping-in-the-mountains band in sweatshirts and hats. Their sound ranges from the acoustic guitar, mandolin, and harmonized voices of bluegrass to the electric guitar, fiddle, and lonesome vocals of honky-tonk. If you couldn't tell the two apart, you wouldn't be interested in the album Finest Qualities. "Country" music is a taste not shared by all. Hell, even I can't stand that "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" and "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" puerile vomit they pass off as music on KSON.

Shoestring is less glitz and glam and more honesty, fun, and talent, which may hurt them in the long run but makes them a damn better listen. And they are talented. Not one note is missed, fuzzy, or off on the entire album. They're tight and crisp with the timing and sophisticated with the riffs and beats.

Although I don't think it would be out of place in the other tracks, "Tijuana Jail" is the first on the CD to feature the fiddle. It's about a man in the border town's clink. It sounds a little like Robert Earl Keen's "Road Goes on Forever," with a slower pace but just as catchy sing-along-with-us lyrics. It's not a rowdy party song but a bluesy lament.

"Struttin' " is a hop-along country song about walking with a girl that has a pace to match its theme. A few of the songs are about leaving, loving, and the things we ought to do instead of the things we end up doing. One of the "leaving" songs is "You Can't Hear Me." It's a wintry, rainy-day, sad ballad and my favorite song on the album.

Hometown CD Review 5-25-06


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