Finally—a new country artist who doesn’t sound like the result of market research! Austin, Tex.-based Junior Brown has a free-and-easy way with an old-time shuffle, a resonant baritone and a hot guitar hand. He’s also got an antic, punning sense of humor. “Still Life with Rose,” for instance, isn’t about a painting, it’s a reproach to a former lover (“Still, life with Rose is better than life with you could ever be”).
Brown wields a two-necked monster of his own invention, a combination of an electric guitar and a pedal-steel guitar he calls a guit-steel, and his pyrotechnics on “Guitar-Steel Blues” will raise your neck hairs. A good half dozen of Guit with It’s tunes are memorable, from “Highway Patrol” (a cop’s-eye view of the world) to “They Don’t Choose to Be That Way,” in which Junior, momentarily serious, sings movingly about the homeless. His humor may be too bent and his sound insufficiently pasteurized for him to fit inside commercial country’s confines, but Junior Brown will delight any true country-music fan. (Curb)