Music Reviews

The Tennessee Twin

Free to Do What?


Cindy Wolfe peers at me accusingly from the cover of her CD: she’s pregnant, she’s wearing some kind of demented princess gown/prom dress green satiny thing, and she’s holding a protest sign: “FREE TO DO WHAT?” She’s angry, but she’s country; she’s funny, but she’s serious; her twin sister Allison Wolfe sings for Bratmobile, but Cindy always favored the western swing of their native Tennessee, so she chooses to do her protest songs as She channels Kitty Wells and Loretta Lynn and all those honkytonk angels whose nasally twangs rocked the house back in the ’40s and ’50s and ’60s… but making it all subversive and political and stuff. Not radical (remember early k.d. lang?), but spunky and respectful all at once.

That’s what makes Free to Do What? so much fun: Cindy and her band hit it dead on. Her voice is pinched and perfect as she bangs out heavy-handed protest anthems like the title track (“Mr. President from the elections that weren’t free / Thanks for all the violence and all the hypocrisy”) and lighter smarter stuff like “The Apple of Your Black Eye” (“No I ain’t fixin’ no black-eyed peas / But you can have a black eye if you please”). She’s got an ear for the big hooks, as you can hear in album-closer “It’s Just Propane,” and she’s got a taste for blood, as she proves in the Gram Parsons rip “Big Emo Eyes.” And her band is wonderful, especially fiddler/singer Monica Chattaway, accordionist/singer Maija Martin, and the rhythm section of Kurt Dahle and Coco Culbertson.

So there’s everything to love about The Tennessee Twin and nothing to hate… unless you count the 33-minute running time of this CD.

Mint Records:

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