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CD review: Local boys Saint Anyway show some growth

Saint Anyway is made up of two area lads who combine interest and talent within the folk-rock-bluegrass fields to come up with a debut full-length disc called "Two."...

Saint Anyway is made up of two area lads who combine interest and talent within the folk-rock-bluegrass fields to come up with a debut full-length disc called "Two."

Tony Petersen on banjo and Jamie Kallestad on guitar and harmonica, both singing, made their first recorded effort with last year's EP called "Paper Town," which sold out the allotment in short order. The new release features original tunes and growth in their instrumental prowess.

"Back to the Start Again" has a solid bluegrass feel -- or as much of a bluegrass feel as an acoustic guitar and banjo will allow. Petersen's banjo rings out with the Earl Scruggs influence, while Kallestad's rhythm guitar provides a surprisingly full backdrop. Kallestad also contributes a lively harmonica ride in a tune about a revolving-door kind of relationship.

"Goodbye Carolina Rose" has the jaunty feel of an '80s John Prine tune, often filled with humor. This is a story about love gone cold and is lyrically fairly straightforward, which might speak to the youth of the duo. Time and lots more writing, adding some layers and depth to the text (and the occasional bit of humor) will prove an invaluable asset. Their accomplished chops on their respective axes help to overcome what's lacking.

"Paper Town" refers to their hometown of Cloquet with its paper mills: "Grew up in a paper town where everybody knows not to play with fire or the whole thing's gonna' blow." The simplicity of the changes and the purity of the vocal harmonies remind me of early Simon & Garfunkel (maybe back to when they were Tom & Jerry).

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"Washington" is a kind of talking-blues: "Angels from above delivering me from this wicked world, 'cause I fell in love." Kallestad chips in a tasty little guitar solo complete with slurs and bends, and Petersen's banjo hits the mark with crisp lines that sound like Don Reno in his prime.

There is a hidden track that's half-rehearsal, half-performance and sung through a distorted mic, giving it a more-than-sinister vibe.

They're young, they're talented and they've got a new disc. Check out Saint Anyway.

Saint Anyway / "Two"

Genre: Folk/rock/bluegrass

Recommended if you like: Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, Ryan Adams

Label: SA Records

Website: www.SaintAnyway.com

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Personnel: Tony Petersen (banjo, vocals), Jamie Kallestad (guitar, harmonica, vocals)

Upcoming gigs: Friday at 8 p.m. at the Amazing Grace Bakery & Café, 394 S. Lake Ave. Duluth, (218) 723-0075.

John Ziegler has worked for 36 years in the music industry as a radio host, interviewer, record producer and professional musician.

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