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CD Review: Kristen Grainger & Dan Wetzel - Part Circus * Part Rodeo
By Chris Propfe - 05/10/2008 - 02:39 PM EDT

Artist: Kristen Grainger & Dan Wetzel
Album: Part Circus * Part Rodeo
Genre: Country/Folk
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Best Songs: Limbo, The Next Best Western, Under The Table
CD Review:

If the songs of Kristen Grainger and Dan Wetzel don’t inspire you, stop listening to music right now! I just got finished spinning the album, Part Circus * Part Rodeo and all I have to say is, “Wow”! Kristen and Dan combine the best attributes of Country, Folk, and Americana, and create a hybrid all their own. While Kristen handles the bulk of the vocals, Dan rocks us with acoustic guitar, high-strung guitar, electric guitar, and even takes the lead vocals on It’s All Up To You.

The first song Limbo would have been enough. With its slow groove and catchy harmonized chorus, I couldn’t help thinking that it was the perfect summer driving song.

Mountain Boy taps into the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” vibe, but remains unique.

The Next Best Western is when you really begin to understand where Kristen is coming from vocally. Imagine a mix of Patty Loveless and Dar Williams. She delivers a story in such a way, that you want to keep listening.

Doris Dean is another highlight. It’s about a 90 year old woman who was named after a rodeo star. She’s looking back on her life now and realizing that it was pretty ordinary. It’s the perfect grass-is-greener song that I think we all wonder about at times.

The CD contains some great covers too. Joan Osborne’s St. Teresa, Seal’s Crazy, and Steve Earle’s It’s All Up To You are just a few. They help to round out the album and show that Kristen and Dan are good at choosing other writers’ material as well.

My favorite song has to be Under The Table. It’s a honky tonk drinkin’ song with a great tag. “When I’m under the table, I’ll be over you”. It also contains an awesome pedal steel guitar solo that adds to the mood. I’m going to go pop a top right now and only hope to write a song as good as these tunes!

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