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The Whiskey Gentry: Please Make Welcome  

Self-released

The Whiskey Gentry's debut album, Please Make Welcome, blends a handful of older numbers with brand-new songs, culminating in a comprehensive look at the group's contemporary country grit. "Queen of My Heart" kicks off the album with a polished Nashville sound while maintaining a countrypolitan mystique that underscores leading lady Lauren Staley's gift as a singer/songwriter. She gets writing credit on 10 of the 14 songs here, so her presence as the sweet and salty hellion dominates the album's sparkling string arrangements and production. "Preacher's Daughter," "Mary" and "Four Horsemen" are teeming with honesty while milling over topics that shake up modern America: love, fidelity, spirituality and integrity. It can come across as contrived at times, but it's never one-dimensional. The gypsy flourishes of closing number "Comrade (Live)" show off Whiskey Gentry's penchant for playing what comes naturally, and having a pretty good time while doing it. (4 out of 5 stars)

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