You might conclude that Muth has more in common with so-called dirty minimalist fiction than with Loretta Lynn, but the country music component is critical to its narrative ebb and flow. Her portraits are punctuated with concise images that rely on wordplay or on the unexpected manipulation of figures of speech: "Knock that chip off your shoulder into your heart of stone to start a spark, because I need some way to see in the dark," Muth sings in "Before the Night Is Gone." Love with its negotiations and failures is the primary topic. And country provides the lyric devices for shorter Muth songs, some of them humorous, like "You Only Believe Me When I'm Lying." Alternative country's young revivalists can tend toward mannerism, but there's not a bit of it in Muth's music. She takes the country song into new territory.
[Originally published in July, 2011.]