A five-man acoustic jam
The first notes on the Dexateens’ fifth album signal a new direction for the Tuscaloosa band: Instead of the usual electric-guitar squeal, “Down Low” opens with a bold acoustic strum. Singlewide is mostly unplugged, the Dexateens replacing their Southern rock with a shambling country-folk that has more to do with The Kinks’ Muswell Hillbillies than Skynyrd’s Street Survivors. On songs like the dark “Missionary Blues” and the relatively upbeat “Charlemagne,” the guitars provide more texture than riffs, which further differentiates the band from its electrified peers and creates an ideally evocative setting for Elliott McPherson’s hangdog vocals. With a slightly nasal hollowness that emphasizes his gritty drawl, he channels extreme yearning on “New Boy” and spectacular defiance on epic closer “Can You Whoop It,” which finally unleashes the full force of the Dexateens’ multi-axe attack. After so many strums, they noodle and jam like guitar heroes riding off into the sunset.