Monday, Aug. 6, 2012
The Band Perry w/ Sunny Sweeney
Tonight @ Wisconsin State Fair Main Stage, 7:30 p.m.
Since Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus took the genre to new commercial heights in the '90s, the knock against contemporary country has been that it has abandoned its roots, shutting out traditional sounds in favor of studio-perfected pop. That criticism will probably always have some merit, but in recent years country radio has rediscovered rootsier sounds, and few country acts have better captured that zeitgeist than The Band Perry, the sibling trio led by bright-eyed singer-songwriter Kimberly Perry. The Perry siblings aren't complete traditionalists, of course. The trio's 2010 self-titled debut was, like many major country albums, buffed to a glistening sheen, and its songs occasionally gave way to swelling orchestrations that distracted from the band's charming back-porch vibe. But more than nearly any other major act on the contemporary country scene, the trio is committed to old-fashioned bluegrass instrumentation; they fill their songs with mandolins, fiddles, banjos, accordions and kick drums. And though Kimberly Perry may be doomed to relentless comparisons to similarly perky, similarly blond country star Taylor Swift, at least she's drawn all the right lessons from her peer. Like Swift, she writes with an unexpectedly sharp tongue, lacing her lyrics with a bit more arsenic than you'd expect given her smiling disposition.