Dickens -- ex of Coyotes and Towndogs -- delivers a concise dissertation on American Gothic with this five-track EP. With a voice that squeezes Johnny Cash's emotional lilt through a decade of modern-rock radio, Dickens sings with a style that's resonant and expressive, but never overbearing. And it's a voice that's entirely appropriate for the songs. A two-step removed from the hootenanny of the Towndogs, the material is simple and stark, built solely around an acoustic guitar and lyrics that are engaging, though not always perfectly crafted (a lyric about that rhymes "right up here" with "see my 30th year" is jarring in its arrhythmia). Closing with a cover of Danzig's "Thirteen" that evokes the down-out gloom inherent in the lyrics, this EP shows that Dickens has closed down the honky-tonk and hit the road of reality.
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