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Record Review 

Fans of local music scene stalwarts DQE have learned to expect the unexpected from this frisky, unpredictable combo. And the release of I'm Your Girl marks the group's boldest venture yet. Packaged as a double CD, Girl combines an 18-song DQE disc with a 19-track solo album by bandleader Grace Braun.

The diverse assortment ranges from the girlish joy and toy-piano percussion of "The Constant Friend," on Braun's largely acoustic solo record, to the clanging punkabilly romp of "Hot Dog!" a throbbing showcase for John Armstrong's bass, on the electrified DQE disc. Standouts include "Fire Engine Blue," the blazing "Rock On" and "Too Late to Love Me," a hiccupping Wanda Jackson-style country stomper.

The sprawling set isn't without missteps. The strangest is Braun's attempt to sing Robert Frost's "The Road Less Traveled." Despite a fitting musical arrangement (with the Rock*A*Teens' Justin Hughes contributing beautiful electric piano accents), Braun is miscast. Her child-like quaver and adventurous melody stray too far from the rigid, traditional structure of this American classic.

On firmer ground is the heart-wrenching a cappella reading of the Carter Family's "The Wandering Boy," a selection closer to Braun's rural Kentucky folk/gospel roots. And she's comfortably within her range on "Could This Be the Moment?" a touching love song dedicated to drummer/partner Dugan Trodglen.

DQE plays the Star Bar Sat., Nov. 23.

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