We're talking about the potty-mouthed singer of a band that's two parts Dead Boys and one part Crazy Horse -- accuse him of being a folk singer and he just might slam his glass down on the bar. But The Sauce is a blatant violation of the usual rocker-goes-country equation. For one thing, Eddie Spaghetti's voice sounds rich and assured in plain view, rather than needlessly stylistic (Jack White), or deer-caught-in-the-headlights warbly (Kid Rock). The setting is equally gimmickless -- no lonesome mandolin or dusky pedal steel -- leaving standards like Merle Haggard's "Misery and Gin" and Don Gibson's "Sea of Heartbreak" sweet and direct.
The Sauce, though, is no mere boilerplate of country classics, but a wide-ranging demonstration of Se--or Spaghetti's personal taste. He turns in an elegant reading of Steve Earle's "I Don't Want to Lose You Yet" and milks a sophisticated, jazz-fringed vibe from the Supersuckers' "Sleepy Vampire." He heroically wrests back the gospel classic "Peace in the Valley" from the cornball treatments of Elvis and B.J. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" Thomas. Spaghetti even digs up Randy Newman's "Blue Shadows on the Trail," from the '80s comedy The Three Amigos, and without the spectacle of back-up singing horses, the track reveals a nostalgic lullaby to cowboy culture. Even Spaghetti's original toker anthem "Killer Weed," with its perfect Skynyrd musk, is downright tasteful compared to the stinky canon of reefer anthems out there.
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It's true that the Supersuckers ventured into twang before, with 1997's alt-ish Must've Been High, but that one was more indebted to the Meat Puppets than Robert Earl Keen. This time, Spaghetti has slipped into some comfy walking shoes that show no sign of wearing out anytime soon. Far from being the work of some yodeling dilettante, The Sauce is pure country-folk, rolling by as evenly and earnestly as that of a hard-core troubadour.