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Kathleen Williamson

With her heart divided between the honky tonk and the juke joint, Kathleen Williamson sure can be a character.

"Don't Make a Scene, Kathleen" is a basic blues progression--not unlike Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy"--on top of which Williamson sings about herself in a wonderful, sassy tale of her lifetime proclivity to individualism and the tendency of those around her to squelch her fire.

That's just one of the charming and nonformulaic cuts on Williamson's latest CD, which seems to split its time between gentle, country-style lopes and bluesy rambles, aided and abetted by an all-star lineup of Tucson musicians, including Hal Rugg, Ed DeLucia, Lisa Otey and Ralph Gilmore.

Williamson is best when she defies convention and allows her subtle insights to infiltrate the listeners' consciousness. This is best illustrated when she realizes in "Looking for a Saviour" that the only person who's going to save her is herself, and on the hyper-drive folk of "Good Ole' Fashioned UnAmericana," in which she posits, "If Woody Guthrie were alive today / He wouldn't join your expensive nonprofit music organization."

Two-stepping nirvana is available in the tongue-in-cheek "She Was Playing Texas Hold 'Em," in which the protagonist loses a love to card-playing lust. In fact, much of The Sacred Spud is devoted to being alone. "Mean Mean Road" is about the curse and gift of getting by on one's own.

After the sometimes-wrenching journey, the closing track, the joyous gospel of "Thankful Way to Be," embraces the joy of being comfortable in one's own skin.

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