Julie Roberts | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Julie Roberts 

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Julie Roberts's voice, already as bluesy as any currently allowed on country radio, may even have deepened a bit since her eponymous 2004 debut. And as befits this singular instrument, her new Men and Mascara (Mercury) is high on sadness and low on what I'll call spunkiness, that indomitably sassy feminine pluck that's always been Nashville's detour around feminism and genuine heartbreak. And her songwriters give Roberts plenty to hurt about: on "Paint and Pillows" she doggedly totes up evidence that she's being cheated on in her own home, not only discovering "that long dark hair on the back of my chair" but pointing out "That ain't the way I make my bed." Arlis Albritton, Casey Kessel, and Robin Lee Bruce deserve a back pat for that one, and Albritton and Kessel earn another with the not-overly-regretful my-first-time reminiscence "Too Damn Young." But nothing here matches the title track's exquisite conceit: "Men and mascara / Always run."Janesville opens. Thu 8/10, 9 PM, Joe's, 940 W. Weed, 312-337-3486 or 312-559-1212, $15.

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