If you had to pin a label on Mark Insley, it’d be “alt-country,” but the label wouldn’t stick. While he’s a fan of artists such as Buck Owens and Gary Stewart, he grew up admiring Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix, and Supermodel, Insley’s third album, reflects those varied influences.
“Heart Out in the Snow,” which recalls the best of Robert Earl Keen, is lilting and hook-laden, while the melancholy “My Neighbor’s Dog,” one of five originals among these nine tracks, has a psychedelic coda that sounds straight out of 1968. “The Devil’s Knocking,” another original, is a bluesy rocker redolent of early Stones; several other tracks echo the Jayhawks’ brand of Americana.
The vocals are as varied and convincing as the music. On the folk-tinged “Fade Away,” Insley sounds as gentle and affecting as Eric Andersen, but when he delivers Johnny Paycheck’s “Pardon Me (I’ve Got Someone to Kill),” you may be inclined to run for cover.
Somehow, all this fits comfortably on one CD. Much credit goes to Insley’s supporting cast, which includes such pros as Greg Leisz, Don Heffington, and Bob Glaub; they prove his match when it comes to versatility. Paul DuGre coproduced with Insley, keeping the artist’s vocals front and center and delivering a sound that’s complex and surprise-filled but never cluttered or muddy.