Album Review

Angie Heaton
The rumor mill
[spur records]

For those of you who don’t know, Angie Heaton is a member of Champaign-Urbana’s elite music scene. A native to the area, she has been playing at local music joints and churning out a steady flow of indie/folk albums since the 1990s. This time around, Heaton is joined by The Gentle Tamers for a country-inspired album chock-full of great new material.

Before I get to the CD however, I should mention I’m not the most avid fan of country music, at least not in its current incarnation. Brad Paisley doesn’t do it for me, nor does Carrie Underwood. And, well, Toby Keith talking about putting his boot in someone’s ass sort of makes me die inside. Due to my aforementioned abhorrence for most current country artists, I wasn’t sure if I could give a truly unbiased review of this album. Nonetheless, here it goes:

In Heaton’s first release since 2004’s Let it Ride, we continue to see her progression from alternative indie chick to Dollywood songstress. Surprisingly, this is country music I can live with, and dare I say, actually enjoy. The rootsy quality of this album is endearing. Unlike the pop-ified country music lording over the airwaves today, Heaton’s version of country rings true with that of yesteryear’s Nashville legends. The use of banjo, organ and pedal steel guitar on The Rumor Mill doesn’t come off as clichÇd but instead creates an uplifting throwback to greats such as Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.

Heaton’s vocals on the other hand are anything but country. Her unsteady, unpolished voice gives songs like “Hide and Seek” an alternative edge. The Rumor Mill is a joy to listen to, and knowing a local artist produced it only sweetens the deal.

Grade: A-

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