A followup to 1999's excellent Collecting Empties, Rainville's second CD is another impressive showcase for songwriter John Common, who's emerged as Colorado's most authentic heartland-style rocker. Now playing as a four-piece with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Ian Hlatky, Rainville displays a growth and dexterity on The Longest Street in America, dipping even more into the disparate styles the band braved in the studio three years ago. Kitchen-sink blues, iron-pipe percussion and a thoroughly Waitsian vocal and lyrical sensibility color "How 'Bout You," while spare, semi-acoustic Steve Earle-style balladry surfaces on "Can't Hide" and "Let Me Come Back Home." Common and his capable mates sound most at home, though, when playing the wonderfully raunchy, nearly nasty kind of honky-tonk that cuts through this album like a chasm: The roadhouse romp "Five Dollar Shower" is so beer-drenched and gritty you might feel like reaching for your own sponge afterward. The tones here fluctuate, as do the themes, like the ebb and flow of a closing-time crowd. The constant is Common's corn-fed conviction: Some songs work better than others, but there's really not a note here that feels forced or artificial. To quote an Italian fan who posted a message on the band's Web site, www.rainvillemusic.com, Rainville's music "is surrounded by grace." Yeah, that and a lot of empty beer bottles.
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