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[Off The Record]
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The Corn Sisters

In their alter egos as the Corn Sisters, Neko Case and Carolyn Mark have been belting out boozy, honky-tonk country harmonies for years. This disc captures the pair in a rambling, pleasingly loose set of originals and covers performed in a Seattle coffeehouse over two nights in 1998.

With their cross-cutting colliding vocals, Mark and Case conjure a brand of country far removed from the corporate facsimile that’s made millionaires out of high-hatted blowhards. Armed with barely more than acoustic guitar and the mere suggestion of snare drum to supply the instrumental back-up, the women rely on their sweet-and-sour voices and storytelling gifts. Adultery, jealousy, and smashed-up romance are the order of the day, and both singers move from bitter to mischievous to just plain sad with ease and conviction. Mark’s cautionary opener, "Too Many Pills," stands tall alongside Loretta Lynn’s move-it-or-lose-it "Fist City," and Case’s jaunty "High on Cruel" makes a nice counterpart to slower-paced weepers like Penny Jay Moyer’s hymnal "Don’t Let Me Cross Over" and Nick Lowe’s "Endless Grey Ribbon." Save your biggest shot of bourbon for the exquisitely mournful gender-twisting take on "Long Black Veil."


Issue Date: December 6 - 13, 2001

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