The best thing about Hard Roots is that Mark Stevenson's voice -- a Kansas City treasure -- isn't the best thing about it. Sure, that painful, jagged, disastrously beautiful voice deserves attention. True, Stevenson wrote all ten songs and created the way cool "Sacred Tur-nip" woodcut for the album cover. Still, the best tracks on the album work because the rest of the Orphans know how to jack around with Stevenson's songs. With "Try as I Try," the band hones the backwoods slow jam, with Marco Pascolini's guitar adding R&B-eautiful syrup to lyrics such as You hold a grudge/Like a fool holds a grin. Elsewhere, "Petals in the Wind," "Let Loose Your Love," and "In Silver Moonlight" dazzle precisely because nobody expects to find an old-time, high-country troubadour meandering through Roy Orbison territory. Yet there he is, a ballsy rapscallion loose in rootsville. Hard Roots is the sound of a singer and a band colliding at the intersection of their talents. And it's a lovely, lovely sound.