Bubba Sparxxx

Born of Bisquick, lumpy Georgia MC Bubba Sparxxx turned grits and good ol' boys into a gold-selling gimmick on his 2001 debut, Dark Day, Bright Nights. But aside from wrasslin' pigs in his videos and treating Skoal as a sacrament, Sparxxx's actual music contained few touchstones to the Southern heritage he outwardly espoused.

All this has changed on Deliverance. A much more accomplished, assured affair, it's the very sound of the South, with harmonica, fiddle and beats nastier than a swarm of boll weevils. The down-home yodel of the Yonder Mountain String Band backs Sparxxx on "Comin' Round," single "Jimmy Mathis" rides mean harmonica and a woofer-rattling bass thump, and moaning fiddle makes the lovelorn "She Tried" surprisingly stirring. Best of all is the album's title cut, which blends Sparxxx's deep-fried drawl with acoustic guitar and hand claps.

Deliverance isn't all backwoods charm: "Back in the Mud" is a sweaty drum 'n' bass work-up, while "New South" is a stab at rural rap rock. Through it all, Sparxxx sounds much more confident and composed. "I ain't even tapped into half my potential," he rhymes early on. "But I have shown growth, though, and that's essential." As is Deliverance.

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Jason Bracelin