December 09, 1996 12:00 PM

Parlor James

Take a simple melody, an assortment of (mostly) acoustic instruments and a couple of voices that tangle like kudzu vines on a fence post, and you can sum up the human condition as easily as Parlor James does on their lovely debut EP: “It’s a cheater’s world and I want no part/ But how can I tell that to my cheating heart?” Here is a duo that boasts a fine lineage: Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Hedgecock was the leading (and unjustly overlooked) force behind L.A.’s legendary roots-, rockers Lone Justice in the ’80s. Amy Allison is the daughter of jazzman Mose Allison and the lead singer of the Maudlins. Together since 1994, the duo create a windswept kind of country blues that is as haunting as it is offbeat. Lone Justice fans may miss Maria McKee’s powerful vocals; others may feel stung by Allison’s oddly nasal voice—and the production is decidedly low-fi, the aural equivalent of sepia photos. But when it gets under your skin—one or two listens should do the trick—Dreadful Sorry lodges immediately in your own cheatin’ heart. (Discovery)

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