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The Atkinsons, "American Gothic" (self-released)

Dickie Wood has a lot of words floating around in his head. That's the thought that comes to mind listening to the new release from this ubiquitous Richmond group. Serving the role as lead singer and guitarist, Wood is accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Jeff Williams, bassist Ricky Breland, fiddler Mike Ferry, drummer Kris Krull and percussionist/vocalist Jamie Wood. Throughout 10 tracks (and a bonus track), they weave stories of loneliness, desertion, romance, boozing, traveling . . . very much a cross-section of the American experience.

Songs are written more in the form of rhyming prose than as couplets, which helps bolster the storytelling. Sonically, the group resembles alt-rock pioneers Uncle Tupelo or early Ryan Adams. The idea behind the music is well-communicated, and the songs are executed with precision. The Atkinsons have been performing on Richmond stages for more than four years, and the time and experience are reflected in the maturity of this recording.

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