Like, Love, Lust, and the Open Halls of the Soul-Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter 

(Barsuk)

A lot of critics are going to call this an alt-country record, but Like, Love, Lust ... is more psychedelic space rock. That's not to say Sykes and her Seattle bandmates don't bring in country-rock touches -- the opening harmonica solo might as well be shot through with dust -- but they aren't preoccupied with updating Music Row or cutting into Steve Earle's market share. What really makes this record work is the way every instrument -- be it acoustic or electric -- is out front in the mix and milked and miked for every ounce of drama. Guitarist Phil Wandscher is a wonder, setting a smoky scene for the smoldering "How Will We Know" and then on fire for the solo in "LLL." The lyrics are perhaps the only element that falls short, but it takes a while for you to even notice. -- WT

Grade: A-

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