Five & Dime Waltz
Dime Box are five women exploring the wide open spaces of Southern California with music that offers a smart and thoroughly engaging take on classic country, bluegrass and folk with just the right dash of rock and roll sass and energy. Dime Box singer and rhythm guitarist Kristi Callan used to be the leader of the Eighties alt-pop outfit Wednesday Week, and two decades on her vocals are just as skillful and even more graceful than they were back in the day, while her able bandmates Edie Murphy (fiddle and mandolin), Yolande Ng (lead guitar), Pam Moore (bass) and Laura Ann Masura (percussion) add superb harmonies that give a lovely lift to the melodies. Callan wrote or co-wrote all the tunes on Five and Dime Waltz (except for a fine and respectful cover of Dolly Parton's 'Do I Ever Cross Your Mind'), and while the music reflects the traditions of country music, the lyrics are focused on the realities of life in the present day, from folks struggling to make ends meets working at a big box store at minimum wage ('Five and Dime Waltz') and the dilemma of why bad things keep happening to good people ( 'High Road') to the nuts and bolts of love after ten years and a couple of kids ('Nobody') and a divorced mom's battle to hold her family and life together ('Up To Here'). Dime Box's music is gloriously free of irony and melodrama, spinning their tales with an understanding of the important details of life and a love of this music that leaves room for a personal stamp all it's own. Add a crisp and straightforward production from Dennis Moody and you get a great alt-country set that confirms maturity and tradition can actually be (gulp) fun. A splendid debut album. -Allmusic.com 07/08 Independently-produced, pleasantly twangy, bluegrassy folk-rock-twang from Los Angeles... This all-gal five-piece ensemble wrote all but one of the songs on here, and their pride of ownership comes through loud and clear... They sing with pleasure and harmonize with joy, sort of like a 'grassier version of the Emmylou Harris/Dolly Parton/Linda Ronstadt Trio of yesteryear... The musicianship is solid, although you can hear the rough patches as well -- this doesn't sound like a big-budget Nashville album where every tic and quirk has been smoothed out in the studio... In short, this is real music made by real people: twangfans who cherish old-school folkies like the Any Old Time Stringband, Sally Van Meter or Laurie Lewis might wanna check these gals out as well. Nice to hear a little twang still coming out of SoCal. -slipcue.com 4/08 Long ago in Texas, a small town didn't have a post office. So the people left a dime in a box to get a letter delivered. And the town became known as Dime Box. Just a little while ago in California, a group of musical women got together on the singer's back porch and made some sounds that echoed small town Texas life. So they called themselves Dime Box. You don't need electricity to make the sounds Dime Box makes. You just need some strings for the mandolin, the fiddle and the guitars, and maybe some brushes for the drummer. And a fine country voice like Dolly or Patsy. Dime Box singer Kristi Callan has one of those voices. You know, the kind that floats effortlessly over the lyrics. The kind that yearns and reminds you of some faraway place where you always wanted to go. And the songs... Well, they've got ten heartfelt originals and a Dolly cover here. 'Bone to Pick' is an old fashioned country toe-tapper with tangy barbeque sauce poured all over it and great biting lyrics: 'I want you up and gone by the end of this song.' During 'High Road' the bass and brushed drums chase each other in a galloping rhythm. 'Mama' is surrounded by smooth harmonies and plaintive violin figures that echo the song's theme of regret. Some of the songs are about women escaping and coping. Take the kids post-divorce and start over. The title song is about living a life somewhere between homelessness and normal society. Collecting scraps and leftovers and making them work. But the song makes it more bearable by comparing it to a dance: 'doing the five and dime waltz.' The wistful 'Up to Here' is another post-divorce escape, but this time it's balanced by remembering the joys of being naive. My favorite song is 'Betsy,' which longs for the return of a much missed old friend. It has just the right touch of pensive mandolin playing and wondering lyrics. The best way to hear the music of Dime Box is to sit out on your back porch around dusk and listen. Or pick up this CD. Just be sure to leave a dime in the box for the postman. - Joe Beine's Dream Watcher blog - 3/26/08 "DIME BOX BAND is Kristi Callan's (formerly of Wednesday Week) latest musical project. Picture the Flying Burrito 'Sisters' and you'll get the picture. I like everything about this band, from their harmonies to the dresses which make them look like actresses performing a scene from a summer stock production of 'The Grapes of Wrath.' I am entirely sold on their high lonesome sound and hope to hear a full-length CD from them someday." - Steve Thorn's Time Machine Radio Show blog - 9/03/07.