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Friday, October 31, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 29.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Paper
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Mornin' Old Sport: Mornin' Old Sport
(Misery Loves Co Records)

At first blush, "Sweet Pea" - a slow, sweet shuffle on Mornin' Old Sport's self-titled debut LP - might be mistaken for a cover of Willie Nelson's 1978 cover of "All of Me," the standard performed by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and even the Muppets. "Sweet Pea" and Willie's "All of Me" tap the same well for inspiration: 1930s jazz spiked with hints of Gene Autry and Hank Williams.

Made up of Berklee-trained musicians, Oakland, Calif.'s, Mornin' Old Sport honors vintage touchstones with considerable skill. Vocalist Kate Smeal effuses like Lady Day on the romantic "Over the Moon," then belts like Patsy Cline on "Clementine," a Western number that trots along like a lovestruck cowboy. Though the band's musical sound is old-timey as they come, their subject matter can be surprisingly dark and modern. By comparing heartbreak to nuclear destruction, a concept that didn't even exist in the early 1930s, "When the Bomb" provides a sharp contrast to sunny, swinging rambles like "Katie."

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