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Minton Sparks

MIDDLIN' SISTERS (Dualtone)  •  Minton Sparks

Land sakes, child. Pure Southern poetic brilliance from a new star. Minton's Arkansas and Tennessee soundscapes are comical and riveting portraits of family life in the rural South. The characters are sketched so quickly and indelibly, they musta come right out of her family tree and whatever holler she sprung from.

Whether she's recounting the story of a whippin, talking about pie or a womanizing preacher named John 3:16, she gets you all the way into the story. A 91 year old woman who finally leaves an abusive man after 65 years, the mother who paints a red stripe down a barn every time her daughter married another man, damn.

Minton is a performance poet, and I've had the unforgettable pleasure of catching her act live, cream leather shoes with the bow on 'em and the rumpled come to Sunday meeting dress with two inches of slip down South. Her rendering of this incredible material is every bit as good as the poetry itself, and inseparable. My jaw was tired afterward, so my mouth musta been hangin open. And it's no wonder, she's riveting, you can't take your eyes off her.

In that show, but especially on the recording, the musical accompaniment is almost unbelievable, it's so perfect. Rob Jackson and the mutimegatalented Darrell Scott lay down tracks of banjo, mandolin, dobro and slide guitar that support or ornament the words with true mastery. It's a real tribute to the wonderful production of ace songwriter Marcus Hummon, it's a fantastic record. And Waylon Jennings' a cappella Gospel appearance on John 3:16, come on, that's great stuff.

This is a very special recording, you need to have this one. Buy it where you can find out more, at the artist's website. • FG

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