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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cowboy Envy: Sweet harmony

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Cowboy Envy has always been about a wink and nod. The wink is three women dressed up as cowpokes who sing old-fashioned Western songs; the nod is their rich three-part harmonies that fuel new life into a fading genre of music.

"It's hard to find Western music these days," says lead singer Berne Poliakoff, known as "Frenchy" in her Cowboy Envy persona. "And that's a shame because it's great music. We all have these songs in our subconscious."

The new Cowboy Envy CD, Unhitched, illustrates the dichotomy between the inside joke and the strength of the band's musical chops. At one point on a song called "Vim, Vit and Vigor," Frenchy is chastised by her two bandmates for spending too much time messing with her hair. Then, a few songs later, a lonesome harmonica opens a track and the three voices meld for an evocative take on the old cowboy standard, "Oh, Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie."

That playful seriousness has won Cowboy Envy a wide range of admirers, including Douglas "Ranger Doug" Green, leader of the pre-eminent Western band Riders in the Sky. "It is an act of art to balance irony, pure silliness and contemporary sensibility with deep love and obvious respect for tradition," Green has said of Cowboy Envy. "They are the freshest thing going in Western music today."

Read the rest of this article here.

(Photo courtesy Cowboy Envy)

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