Long ago in Texas, a small town didn’t have a post office. So the people left a dime in a box to get a letter delivered. And the town became known as Dime Box. Just a little while ago in California, a group of musical women got together on the singer’s back porch and made some sounds that echoed small town Texas life. So they called themselves Dime Box.
You don’t need electricity to make the sounds Dime Box makes. You just need some strings for the mandolin, the fiddle and the guitars, and maybe some brushes for the drummer. And a fine country voice like Dolly or Patsy. Dime Box singer Kristi Callan has one of those voices. You know, the kind that floats effortlessly over the lyrics. The kind that yearns and reminds you of some faraway place where you always wanted to go. And the songs… Well, they’ve got ten heartfelt originals and a Dolly cover here.
“Bone to Pick” is an old fashioned country toe-tapper with tangy barbeque sauce poured all over it and great biting lyrics: “I want you up and gone by the end of this song.” During “High Road” the bass and brushed drums chase each other in a galloping rhythm. “Mama” is surrounded by smooth harmonies and plaintive violin figures that echo the song’s theme of regret.
Some of the songs are about women escaping and coping. Take the kids post-divorce and start over. The title song is about living a life somewhere between homelessness and normal society. Collecting scraps and leftovers and making them work. But the song makes it more bearable by comparing it to a dance: “doing the five and dime waltz.”
The wistful “Up to Here” is another post-divorce escape, but this time it’s balanced by remembering the joys of being naive.
My favorite song is “Betsy,” which longs for the return of a much missed old friend. It has just the right touch of pensive mandolin playing and wondering lyrics.
The best way to hear the music of Dime Box is to sit out on your back porch around dusk and listen. Or pick up this CD. Just be sure to leave a dime in the box for the postman.