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ALBUM OF THE MONTH:

Victims, Enemies, & Old Friends, by Doc Dailey and Magnolia Devil

A strong Southern accent imbues Muscle Shoals musician Doc Dailey’s voice and music. His songs continue a rich Southern storytelling tradition, filled with characters struggling with the hands that they’ve been dealt. In album opener “Prove Me Wrong” Dailey strives to make a relationship work, only to confess “if a pictures worth a thousand words, how come I keep burnin’ hers.” The musical accompaniment – acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo and fiddle – only adds to the melancholy feel.

It is Dailey’s descriptive attention to detail that captivates on “Let Me Down,” the tale of a woman flying into the Huntsville, Alabama airport expecting to find her lover there to pick her up. The tension builds as she eventually catches a cab home to find him in his truck with another woman. “She said, ‘Driver, turn this car around, take me to any old bar downtown, I need one more round of let me down.”

I’ve always been a sucker for horns, and Dailey hits the spot with “Seven Points.” The song starts as a solo acoustic gem but gets jolted to life when the horns announce their presence with eight sharp blasts. The upbeat tempo belies a sorrowful tale of broken love, with Dailey and Amber Murray harmonizing beautifully as they declare, “Scars don’t leave the wounds you can’t see, hurt so bad and last so long (never seem to heal up right).”

Dailey and the Devil show their rock edge on “The Only Reason That I Know.” Pounding drums set the tone, soon joined by a heavy bass line. A jangly electric guitar and banjo soon join in for a raucous good time. Meanwhile, “Alabama Daydream” is anything but, a rollicking ramble that finds Dailey confessing, “I never claimed to know it all ‘cept slow sad songs and alcohol.”

In the end, it’s the album’s honesty and simplicity that make it so enjoyable. The songs have a special sweetness, even when bittersweet. They overflow with sincerity and spirit, exactly the way that music was intended to be.

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