Diamonds In The Ditch

 Diamonds In The Ditch
Okay, let's get one thing straight: as much as the band may want you to believe it, this is not a country album, at least not in the traditional sense. The one, four, five progressions and vocal harmonies pervasive in most country music are largely absent. This means that with few exceptions, Diamonds in the Ditch ends up sounding like an acoustic Sainte Catherines album, with whom Yesterdays Ring share many members. The band's lyrics mostly address life on the road and how few people understand the trials and tribulations that go along with that lifestyle. The approach can be effective at times, but often ends up sounding spoiled and whiny, best exemplified on "Roses." But let's not taint this too much. This is still a great album and many of its initial shortcomings become virtues after a few listens. Hugo Mudie's rough and unconventional voice grounds the proceedings, allowing the musicianship to wander from slow ballads to up-beat rockers without falling too far from a unified vision. His ability to be honest and emotional without sounding cheesy is on full display, demonstrated on "Ste-Cath Family" and "Email From Lucie." So while this may not be the straight-up country album the band were intending to make, it does take elements of country, punk and rock, combining them into what is ultimately a moving and inspired album. (Aquarius)