Exene Cervenka The Excitement of Maybe

Exene Cervenka The Excitement of Maybe
Exene Cervenka could be excused for sitting on her laurels. Via X and the Knitters, she has, since the late '70s, been a towering figure in the country punk and Americana genres, but she remains prolific. Scarcely more than a year after the fine Somewhere Gone, she returns with an even stronger record. The years have been kind to her voice, with any trace of her earlier occasional shrillness now expunged. It's a voice with an honest, oft-haunting quality, one that perfectly suits her eloquent songs. There are plenty of adventurous arrangements here as well, with instrumentation ranging from well utilized pedal steel and fiddle to strings, robust horns (as on the pulsating "I'll Admit It Now" and jaunty "Already In Love"), with plenty of backing vocals. The calibre of her sidemen attests to the peer respect Exene enjoys, with a line-up including long-time collaborator Dave Alvin (X, the Blasters) on guitar, masterful jazz bassist Christian McBride (Chick Corea, Sting) and pedal steel player/labelmate Maggie Bjorklund. There's a melancholy feel to "Alone In Arizona" and the pleading "Dirty Snow" ("baby please don't leave me yet"), but there's light on the horizon, with "Beyond You" and "Falling." The 13 tracks occupy an economical 40 minutes, with nary a wasted moment. (Bloodshot)