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A Folk-Rock Singer Gets 'Less Polite'

Will Kimbrough moves from hired hand to guitar-slinging frontman.
Will Kimbrough moves from hired hand to guitar-slinging frontman.

As a hired-gun guitar-slinger for the likes of Rodney Crowell, Todd Snider, Josh Rouse and others, Will Kimbrough has earned a reputation as an "alien" — a little joke among the alt-country cognoscenti that it's the only way to explain Kimbrough's otherworldly prowess. Fortunately for Kimbrough, who aspires to a solo career, his songwriting chops are solid, too.

On his new Americanitis, Kimbrough cranks out folk-rock that plays on the best traditions of both genres. In "Less Polite," Kimbrough declares his independence from the euphemistic reserve that serves as the hallmark of his Alabama upbringing. When he sings, "I'm trying to be less polite / I'm fed up with the Christian wrong," the jagged polemic goes down easy thanks to a smartly paced melody with just enough crunch to keep it from devolving into country-pop syrup.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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David Brown
David Browne is a contributing editor of Rolling Stone and the author of Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth and Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, Spin and other outlets. He is currently at work on Fire and Rain, a book that will track the lives and careers of The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young during the pivotal year of 1970.