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Jackpot



Jackpot's songs are brimming with comfy, twangy, down-home warmth that will make you want to buy a mesh baseball cap and an American car. The music is perfectly crafted, heartfelt, and evocative -- the kind of smart, straightforward blend of classic rock and classic country that endeared the late great Uncle Tupelo to so many people. You might go so far as to call this stuff "rollicking," as railroad rhythms, roiling guitars, and touches of organ combine with equal amounts of shimmer and twang to create a potent background for singer/guitarist Rusty Miller's raspy, dust-drenched voice.

Miller's liquor and smoke-stained voice sounds like an extra-saucy blend of the The Replacements' Paul Westerberg, Uncle Tupelo's Jay Farrar, and an unsmarmy G-Love. You might think that he had grown up working on a farm down in West Texas. You'd be wrong: Jackpot is actually from Placerville, in NorCal mountain gold country. The kind of place where, for fun, the kids drag race drunk, spinning their beat-up Dodges down winding mountain roads, heedless of the hairpin turns and posted speed limits. Listening to a bittersweet narrative like "Weightless," you can practically smell the dust and feel the sun.

As if the good-time rock and roll music weren't enough, Miller has a sly sense of humor that reveals itself in his lyrics. In "Waterfall," Miller deadpans, "And I don't wanna ruin the moment/but I think you got some food on your face." But this is not self-conscious cleverness or wry detachment: the members of Jackpot clearly have a genuine love for the honest emotion of country music. And if you don't think that sounds good, well, there just may be no hope for you.

"Fleas on the Tail of Time" and "Quicksand" are from 1998's Bone-Ville. "Weightless" and "Waterfall" are from 2000's Weightless.