Remember how Ugly Kid Joe covered "Cat's in the Cradle"? I do, wish I didn't. Remember what they did next? You don't. Music nerds believe cover albums are best left to those in career twilight, but Carrie Rodriguez is apparently not receiving the "Nerds, News, and Nudes" circular. Her third full-length, Love and Circumstance, is all retreads.
A respected fiddle player, Rodriguez showcases her vocals on the John Hiatt penned opener, "Big Love." Her voice is a demure, wispy lilt that cracks when you need it to and energetically expands along with the played-out crescendo, like a Jane's Addiction B-side. Her other choices will excite music cultists who know who really writes Lyle Lovett's songs. Richard Thompson? Yep. Townes Van Zandt? Indeed. Hank Sr.? Goodness. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" with noodling guitar is as unnecessary as it is unsatisfying. These songs aren't performed poorly—the band is tight—they're merely mundane. Perhaps live, tracks like "Wide River to Cross" and "I'm Not for Love" will lose the studio sheen.
Under any circumstance Rodriguez kicks the tutsi-fruitsy out of modern country screechers like Carrie Underwood. Does she do the same to the likes of Raitt and Ronstadt? I'd love it if she did.
Carrie Rodriguez plays the Top Hat Thursday, August 5, at 9 PM, with Andrea Harsell. $19/$16 advance.