The best country songs are based on a killer story, and, man, does Justin Rutledge know how to tell 'em. No matter how soothing and warm the dude's vocals sound, how tight his backing band, it's impossible not to be distracted by the meticulously detailed snapshots of everyday people's lives that Rutledge outlines in each song. The writing here is a leap from his Junction-centric debut. The specificity of his album's title holds true in each song, from the "hookers who read Baudelaire" in his Cremation Of Sam McGee noir tribute The Suffering Of Pepe O'Malley, to the casual (perfect) nod to the Velvets' Sunday Morning in his long-distance lament Does It Make You Rain? Admittedly, if the disc didn't sound great it'd be little more than a nice set of liner notes. But the players, who range from Melissa McClelland to steel player Burke Carroll to Foggy Hogtown Boy John Showman, are dead-on.
Rutledge holds a CD launch at the Horseshoe Friday (October 6).