B.J. O'Malley

In Love and Decay (Littletown Records)

B.J. O'Malley Beachland Tavern Friday, March 25
Willie Nelson wrote "Crazy," the song that Patsy Cline made a country classic, and he's said that it was originally titled "Stupid." B.J. O'Malley starts In Love and Decay by picking up where Willie left off, resignedly crooning at the conclusion of "Welcome": "Ideally, love is all there is/But really, I think love is dumb." Fifteen songs later, she feels a little better, closing the disc by singing, "So long/Farewell/I don't need you dragging me down." It's not happy, but it's good.

On her previous five albums, the Youngstown native was a honky-tonk gal with energy to burn, but the relationships she sang about in stompers like "One Drink at a Time" have since ended badly. "Stay Awhile" finds a lovelorn O'Malley reinventing herself as singer-songwriter, finding solace in a weeping guitar. Even her friends have abandoned her, and "Honestly" is downright dark. They don't make country like this anymore -- but then again, like Willie and Patsy, B.J. is bigger than just country.

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