A fluidity exists, enviable and admirable, in musicians who can traverse the lines of genre and create albums on first tries as though they’ve been pumping out that “type” of tune for decades. Mary Jane Dunphe is one of them. Having fronted the beloved punk outfit Vexx, and then expertly delving into synth music with CC Dust, she’s now partnered (pardner’d) with Chris McDonnell (Trans FX) to look towards western geographies and retrospective consciousnesses in their new country rock project The County Liners. Their debut EP, simply and, well, appropriately titled Mary Jane Dunphe And Chris McDonnell In The County Liners, acts as an unassuming reacquaintance with an avenue of Americana we punks may have forgotten. Or perhaps never even known. Almost as a matter of respect, a nod of the head to the turf they’re treading, a Lucinda WIlliams cover is happily included on the album. “Maria,” a song simultaneously intimate and ubiquitous, evokes the grandiosity of the word “country.” It’s loaded with broad desert plains and cloudless skies and open roads and a time lost in memories of blood and industry. The County Liners sort of displace the twanged acoustic expression of Williams’ guitar with warm, granular keys and hushed electric chords, Dunphe’s lower, bountiful voice filling any cracks perceived by you perfectionists. “New York City was always your home,” she echoes. “But in your heart you know you were born to roam.” It gets us out there, roaming too. Just through sonic exploits. How nice to get away from here and now.
Mary Jane Dunphe And Chris McDonnell In The County Liners is out November 17 on Wharf Cat Records. (The two also play together in CCFX.)