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CD Review: The Lazy Suns "Bar Music Hotel" 

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The Lazy Suns Bar Hotel Music

(2016, Independent)

 The Lazy Suns' songwriters, Marc Clayton and Jeff Sohn, are every bit as infatuated with John Lennon as Gram Parsons. Consequently, their North Country version of country rock plays more on melody than twang, like London meeting the High Plains. In the opening minutes of "Bottom of the Hill," the Capital Region quintet pushes laconic T Bone Burnett phrasing against a loping country shuffle; mixes surf rock and spaghetti western motifs; and, naturally, melds orchestra bells with sweeping pedal steel atmospherics. The "Bottom of the Hill," it turns out, is a good place to land. So is "Little Star," a genuine, lilting pop gem that highlights Clayton's malleable, always-haunting voice and this group's way with an arrangement.

The Byrds jangle and Clayton/Sohn harmonies of "Rosary" do not disappoint. Nor do the hooky "Young Man's Game" (like Badfinger with George Harrison at the desk in 1971) or the even hookier "Dead Man's Shoes." There are weak spots—the Replacements-y "Aftershow" is a pale fascination with rock 'n' roll life, and "All the Burritos You Can Eat," while gloriously rocking, is as obvious as the Flying Burrito Brothers-name-checking title suggests. But Bar Hotel Music is as fine a slice of No Depression roots rock as you're likely to find. Unfortunately, steel man Rick Morse passed from cancer just after the album's release. Thankfully, the recording serves as a fitting epitaph, representing the pinnacle of Morse's lifelong work in an outfit and a style he cherished.

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