Kentucky probably has more poets who dabble in music than is desirable, but Ralph wouldn't be on the list of poet-singers to cull. In Kentucky Chrome Revue, the writer with roots in the Louisville punk scene has a first-rate, twangy bluegrass band backing his tonally challenged singing. The singing isn't pretty, but it's passable. Imagine a college lit professor drunkenly improvising lyrics to a country standard, which is pretty much what this album is. He smartly builds stories of mundane lives, lonely and quietly desparate. ("It came to me / that he was ashamed to be / the son of a hobo," nicely sums up the tone of the album.) Ralph is supported by a who's who of grown-up Louisville punks: Catherine Irwin, Will Oldham, Paul Oldham, Todd Brashear, Peter Searcy and Jason Loewenstein. It's music to listen to on a porch, preferably on a muggy day, with a beer and a book you're barely reading.
- Joseph Lord