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True North

Dimestore Hemingway
(self-released)

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The compass is true for this Kansas City-area band's third album, with its melding of roots rock, Americana and country. It's all tied together with unapologetic lyrics by Gary McKnight. Right out of the chute, "Youth Gets Wasted on the Young" has arena-country appeal. This band could hold its own with any act coming to the Sprint Center nowadays. The belt-buckle polisher "Near Mrs." shows McKnight's knack for a hook: Get some gas in Tucumcari/Should make Flagstaff by the dawn. But True North's songs are about people. "Almost Tried" could be an anthem for professional bull rider Brendon Clark, who recently survived an accident when a bull's rear legs came down square on his chest: Do you want it on your tombstone?/You almost tried. And when McKnight sings about his daughter in "Whisper to a Scream," you know he's a proud father: She's unpredictably amazing/Never know what she might do or she might say. The production by Jeff Brock is clean, yet it doesn't sweep away the air of sawdust on the dance floor.

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