Mark Pickerel And His Praying Hands
"Cody's Dream"

(Bloodshot Records 2008)Mark Pickerel And His Praying Hands - Cody\'s Dream

Mark Pickerel has a lengthy discography due in most part to his assisting other musicians, everyone from Nirvana to Brandi Carlile and Neko Case. But on "Cody's Dream," his sophomore full-length release under the guise of Mark Pickerel And His Praying Hands, Pickerel makes it clear that when given the spotlight, he is not going to shirk away. Smooth, sinister riffs creep beside quickly skipping animated melodies as he makes Americana encompass a whole new set of sounds.

Rich 1950s style guitar playing -- more akin to the hip swiveling biker riffs of Link Wray or Dick Dale than the sugary melodies of Buddy Holly -- sets a commanding presence on the full-bodied rock of "Cherokee Grove" while, similarly, "The Last Leaves" struts to the steady melody and clicking castanets. A cover of Bob Dylan's "One More Cup Of Coffee" turns into a reserved crooner, dark and mysterious while "Let Me Down Easy" slides out smooth and smoky. Pickerel lightens up while keeping his tongue firmly in his cheek on the bouncy "Leaving With The Swamptones," announcing, "The first stop is gonna be Charlotte/I'll just bet she's hot/Them girls just gonna go crazy when they hear this gospel rock."

Add those ever changing melodies Pickerel's stoic vocals singing world weary tales and you get something akin to the solo works of his former band mate Mark Lanegan blended with the loose risk taking of Frank Black. But where Lanegan is careful and often reserved, Pickerel is willing to take some chances while keeping his serious demeanor intact. Mark Pickerel And His Praying Hands offer an intriguing album where your curiosity is always rewarded.

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