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August 05

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Forrest Whitlow
Sunrise in ReverseERM

One of the most annoying things about country balladeers is their almost inevitable ability to become parodies of their former selves. In other words, it don’t take much to turn a black-clad Johnny Cash into a chicken-pimpin‚ Kenny Rogers.

Thankfully, after four albums (one a solo effort) Forrest Whitlow‚s fifth CD Sunrise in Reverse has not only kept on the black shirt and jeans, and stayed away from the yard bird, but has actually excelled at refining Whitlow’s unique sound instead of simply repeating it.

Now don’t be fooled by the above praise: This is, at times, a difficult album to approach straight on. Songs like “Smell the Shine on my Brain” and “Philosophy of a Waitress” gleam with an almost manic energy buried under maudlin lyrics and clean simple melodies that mock the listener like a stranger with candy.

The sound (filled out by Clash drummer and guy-who-is-in-a-lot-of-bands John Bersuch and keyboardist E Clark Wyatt) is about the cleanest a studio can create, with perfect mixing, particularly concerning Forrest’s melodic and eerie vocals.

The result is twelve tracks of sophisticated country mixed with psychological musings, a kind of “mystery/country” that begs for those with an open ear, and then for the replay button. www.forrestwhitlow.com —Brandon Whitehead (posted 8/26/05)

Judith Owen
Lost and FoundCentury of Progress

Judith Owen is without question one happenin' lady. Not only can she stamp eclectic covers with her own brand of jazzy cabaret and R & B, and write great original material as well, she also has been a character on The Simpsons, and her bass player was in this little band called Spinal Tap.

Seriously, not kidding.

As for the unusual covers, try the first track on her newest CD Lost and Found, a bluesy, funky version of Deep Purple's High School anthem "Smoke on the Water." How about a mournful, torch-song version of "Walking on the Moon" from the
Police? Owens turns both into something completely different from what they were, and the result is wonderful.

Her originals are just as interesting, and feature various other talents such as Cassandra Wilson on "Enough," and the impeccable Keb‚ Mo on the funky "Train out of Hollywood."

No doubt some of the interest here comes from one of her band mates, hubby Harry Shear, the severely mustache-enhanced bass player from the now famous mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, (scene with the cucumber in the airport - priceless!). But to let that get in the way will only distract from a truly intelligent and well-crafted album.

In fact, the biggest complaint here is that even at thirteen tracks, Lost and Found seems a little short. Still, any way you find it, this album truly goes to eleven.

Judith Owens will be performing at Mike's Tavern (5424 Troost Ave., 816-444-3399) Aug. 10 at 8 p.m., and the Botanical Concert in the Park in the Wichita Gardens at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 11.. —Brandon Whitehead (posted 8/5/05)

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