The Be Good Tanyas

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

The Be Good Tanyas

Chinatown (Nettwerk) Who other than a benevolent higher power would think to unite three women from the Vancouver area -- vagabond environmentalists who met once -- to make such spellbinding music? The trio calls their brand of rootsy Americana "porch music," as in music you might have heard on a front porch somewhere in the mountains before the idiot box era. Their self-produced sophomore effort, Chinatown, opens with "It's Not Happening," a cozy little ditty as comforting as a mug of warm tea on a bitterly cold night. Frazey Ford and Samantha Parton's buttery voices melt together to create a mesmerizing blend that would inspire love in even the bitterest of codgers. Elsewhere, the lonely, haunting "Waiting Around to Die," about losing family and ultimately oneself in a bottle, and "Junkie Song," about Vancouver's heroin-addled underbelly, cast a chilly pall, a mood that's not really elevated when Parton sings "Dogsong 2," an elegy to her beloved Labrador, Sherpa. Despite the sadness that permeates Chinatown, the trio's old-soul voices get under the skin while the deft and delicate mandolin, banjo (played by Trish Klein), and guitar lines tickle the eardrums. "Ship Out on the Sea" exudes a sexiness not normally associated with roots music, but these sirens pull it off. One listen, and you'll be hooked. (Aussies, Saturday, March 15, midnight)

****

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