Loose – 2001 – 73 minutes

The London record label Loose has been responsible for publicising a wide range of Americana and alternative country through their 'New Sounds of the Old West' compilations. Now up to volume 3 they continue with the (mostly) well-judged mixture of familiar artists and newcomers, exclusive tracks and cover versions that have made the first two so essential.

There are a few bum notes. Grandaddy sound suspiciously un-Grandaddy like on the opening track with a cover of Kris Kristofferson's 'Best of All Possible Worlds', and the album hits a very MOR patch in the middle with unremarkable contributions from Beachwood Sparks, The Shallows and Vera Cruise. The nadir, however, comes courtesy of Bright Eyes' song 'A Perfect Sonnet' which sends me scrambling for the forward button on the stereo every time Conor Oberst's whiny voice starts. Fortunately you can skip directly to Sparklehorse's endearingly intimate cover of the Jimmy Webb classic, 'Galveston' and from there drift onto 'The Banks of The Ohio', Handsome Family style.

Other highlights include a remix of Giant Sand's truly brilliant 'Shiver', Evan Dando's take on the Hank Williams song 'Won't You Sometimes Think Of Me', unvarnished country from newcomers NoahJohn and M Ward, and self-depreciating comedy in Adam Snyder's 'Actress in an Airport'. Not essential but a damn good introduction.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Best Of All Possible Worlds (Grandaddy) - Jaybird (Wiskey Biscuit) - Won't You Sometimes Think Of Me (Evan Dando) - Seeing Eye Dog (Mark Eitzel) - Best Intentions (Goldrush) - Bayonet (Knife In The Water) - Perfect Sonnet (Bright Eyes) - Galveston (Sparklehorse) - Banks Of The Ohio (Handsome Family) - First Communion (Noahjohn) - When I Stop Dreaming (Beachwood Sparks) - Keeping Tallahassee Green (The Shallows) - Wasted Sounds (Vera Cruise) - Beautiful Car (M Ward) - Steps Into Miles (Hayden) - Shiver (remix) (Giant Sand) - Rock Of The Lake (Radar Brothers) - Actress In An Airport (Adam Snyder) - More Than A Saviour (Lincoln) - Misguided Angel (Cowboy Junkies)