If you missed the Fooks' self-titled debut
, throwing Did It Again
into the disc changer will be a pleasant surprise. That's because the honey-sweet voice you hear in the Fooks belongs to none other than Bettie Serveert's own Carol Van Dyk. But wait, what the hell are Van Dyk and her sizable posse of Dutch and Belgian pals doing cutting a spot-on, dust-up-under-the-collar album of Americana and juke-joint country tunes? With pedal steel, slide guitars and saxophones? Well, I don't really know, but the result is surprisingly fresh and pleasantly gritty.
Did It Again is primarily comprised of folksy acoustic numbers, but the band shines brightest when riffing through the smattering of bluesy, barroom rockers interspersed throughout, including the title track, "La Strada" and "Take the Money & Run". "La Strada" even verges on Allman Brothers Band territory, although the saucy solo in the third minute lasts only about 1/20th of the time required to really cross that line.
The album's highlight is the vibraphone-tinted ballad "Almost Too Close", a minor key rumination on burgeoning love that wouldn't have been completely out of place on a later Eagles record. The tune, like most on the record, puts Pascal Deweze in the lead vocal slot, but features poignant vocal harmonies with Van Dyk. Organ rises up out of nowhere to drive the short ditty to its fruition too early; like many songs on this album, its modest length leaves you wanting more.
The ragtime-tinged "Don't Wait Up For Me" lets Van Dyk showcase a strikingly different vocal approach: she experiments with a languid jazzy delivery, delivering lines with a sloe-gin drawl and inflection that is really charming. Too bad the song is so short!
The Chitlin' Fooks exhibit an impressive command of a variety of traditional "American" musics. While it seems counterintuitive, the band is actually at its strongest when it is dabbling in subgenres, as in the bouncy "Don't Wait Up For Me" and the romantic "Almost Too Close". By contrast, the straighter-shooting material lays a little too still to excite attention. Even so, Did It Again is a very strong statement, and is potent evidence that the Fooks can lose the rep of being "Van Dyk's other band."