None of this is to suggest that St. Jude's tunes are all starry-eyed and lovelorn. Far from it. Hoodshot alternates between stark acoustic narratives ("Before You Tango") and twist-and-shout rockers ("Paying the Rent"). St. Jude sings of monsters, missionaries, and motion sickness, backed by a polite jangle that seems to get ever more raucous as the album progresses. Multi-part harmonies and supple guitar enliven standouts "Ruth at Thebes" and "The 'There You Go Again' Girl," which could pass for lost gems from the Kinks. Through it all, St. Jude attempts to smile at sadness. Listeners are likely to follow suit.
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