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CD Review: Midtown Dickens' Home

Trekky; Release date: April 3, 2012



"Crocodile Mile," the seventh song on Midtown Dickens' new LP, Home, is a rambunctious barn burner. Shambling but controlled, it bounces along on slapping stand-up bass and caterwauling slide banjo. It resounds with youthful energy which is appropriate for a song about a Slip 'n Slide. Singer Catherine Edgerton describes herself at 7 years old, lining up for some cooling country fun with friends. It's a simple and playful premise, but it doesn't stay that way. Near the end, she describes the scene, her warming country warble painting a landscape filled with tin-roofed tobacco barns. "From the hillside, I listened hard," she cries as the music crescendos and fades, halting for a second. She finishes the line with naught but a whisper: "And I grew up."

Home, the Durham neo-folk outfit's third album, is mature and nuanced, building from subtle acoustic manipulations that seem at once sweeping and understated. "Crocodile Mile" is an energetic outlier, a reminder of the rough-and-tumble anthems of the band's early days. Back then, Edgerton and fellow songwriter Kym Register were just teaching themselves to play random instruments and making up inescapably cute ditties. Home, while subdued, hinges on similarly juvenile images — friendly elephants, digging in the sand. Here though, Register and Edgerton explore adolescence as a way to understand growing up, contrasting adult emotions with childlike musings. When the soothing instrumentals start to drag, the evocative lyrics pick up the slack, making this Home worth kicking off your shoes and staying for a spell.


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