The Bookends (Provogue)
“The Bookends” is release number twenty for blues guitarist Eric Gales, standing as evidence to dues paid. Gales is a southpaw who plays with his strings essentially strung upside-down, which give his riffs a sound that is immediately unique. Much like lefty Albert King before him, his riffs have an almost stabbing quality, cutting through the mix to make their point.
Gales isn’t just a traditional blues player, though. Here, he plays with funk on “It Just Beez That Way,” and heavy rock on “Reaching For A Change.” My fave of the set is the playful “Somebody Lied,” which sounds like a great 1970’s soul single. There’s a lot to love about “The Bookends,” and love it, you will.
Thank U, Next (Republic)
Listening to a new Ariana Grande album is a bit of an agonizing proposition for me. As a music fan, as an appreciator of great singers, I really want to like what she does, but my expectations always seem to fall flat on their collective face. She is a tremendous vocalist, blessed with a crystalline voice of apparently boundless range. Think I’m over-selling this point? Head on over to YouTube and watch her join Jimmy Fallon for “Wheel Of Musical Impressions.”
In short, she is this generation’s Whitney, Mariah and Christina, all wrapped up into one. In some details, I prefer the sound of her voice to all three. My problem has always been that the material she’s saddled with is under-whelming, even with that huge voice. While it’s true enough that a 52-year-old music critic like me isn’t her target audience, even after three listens, I struggled to pick out a song of hers that I honestly like.
Medium Cool (Fluff & Gravy)
Luther Russell brings a 70’s singer-songwriter approach to his music, with rather intriguing results. Rather than just sounding like a decade-specific knock-off, though, Russell uses that backdrop to unravel songs that are both varied and interesting. The homespun, rough guitar sounds are the glue holding down the job of continuity.
“Deep Feelings” is a swampy Southern frolic, giving way to the Stonesy “Can’t Be Sad.” Russell has also produced the greatest Joe Jackson single that Jackson never recorded in “”Corvette Summer.” Russell’s voice is friendly and warm, holding your attention around every turn. These are really great songs.
Motley Crue/The Dirt Soundtrack (Motley)
Jenny Lewis/On The Line (Warner)
Van Morrison/The Healing Game (Legacy)
Robin Trower/Coming Closer To The Day (Provogue)
The Rippingtons/Open Road (E1)
Megadeth/Warheads On Foreheads (Capitol)
Adam Sandler/100% (Warner)
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