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CD review: Alberta Cross' Alberta Cross 

Dine Alone; Release Date: Oct. 16, 2015

With the departure of one-half of the duo, Alberta Cross offers a fresh beginning for the band and the lone original member. While the band's first two full-length efforts were soaked in Southern rock and soared along on vocals reminiscent of Neil Young, this new album breaks into uncharted territory for the band — and it might just be Alberta Cross' best album to date.

Somewhere between Jim James and Young lies the vocal tone of singer/guitarist Petter Ericson Stakee. While Stakee's vocals were the driving source of emotion on previous albums — 2009's Broken Side of Time and 2012's Songs of Patience — there's far more musical depth to be found here, thanks to the addition of horns, harmonies and a fuller band sound and richer instrumentation.

"Ghosts of Santa Fe" kicks off with a robust horn section giving greater depth to Alberta Cross than has been heard before. The song might be one of its broadest reaching, as well, with an arena-filling chorus and upbeat rhythm. "Western State," with its use of pedal steel, is closer to alt-country and "Easy Street" and its simple keyboard and plucked acoustic offers a bit of solitude to balance out the earlier tracks. "Beneath My Love" experiments with more of a tribal rhythm and the album's closing track, "It's You That's Changing" is an emotional closer featuring Stakee and the barest of musical accompaniment.

It's always refreshing when a band can fill out its sound and broaden its range a bit while not feeling over-produced or commercial, while keeping in harmony with the music it has released in the past. There's always wonderment when a band member leaves — especially a duo — but Alberta Cross comes out stronger for it.

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