New CD Reviews for 6-1-12

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Title: Albert King - I'll Play The Blues For You

Genre: Blues

Description: This re-release of Albert King's 1972 masterpiece includes four previously un-released bonus tracks and new 24-bit remastering done by Berkeley, CA-based Joe Tarantino. Of previously unreleased the bonus tracks, a 2-minute instrumental titled "Albert's Stomp" was the most musically interesting. It highlights Albert's unique guitar style over of a funky/psychedelic Bar-Kays rhythm line. Compared with his classic, Born Under a Bad Sign, this 1972 album has busier horn arrangements with less space and more funk.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8 

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Title: Larry Stephenson - What Really Matters

Genre: Bluegrass, Americana

Description: Larry Stephenson's solo career began over twenty years ago. Since then he's been named "Male Vocalist of the Year" five times by The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America. Produced by Ben Surratt and recorded in Compass Records' excellent Nashville studio, the sound is universally fine. As if all that weren't enough, Sam Bush plays mandolin and adds accompanying vocals on the Woody Guthrie classic, "Philadelphia Lawyer."

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 9

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Title: Sara Watkins - Sun Midnight Sun

Genre: Americana, Pop, Contemporary singer-songwriter

Description: As 1/3 of the trio Nickel Creek, Sara Watkins spent most of her youth touring, recording, and making trend-setting music. On her second solo album Watkins explores wider musical vistas, heading in a decidedly more pop and less traditional stringband direction. With electric instruments, sonic effects, percussion, and keyboards featured prominently in the mix, Watkins' music is far more processed than any of Nickel Creek's releases. The opening cut is so purposefully groady that I thought my CD copy was defective.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 7

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Title: Elenowen - Elenowen

Genre: Folk, Roots, Americana

Description: The husband and wife duo, Elenowen, have a retro folk sound that hints at Simon and Garfunkle, Ian and Silvia, and Mimi and Richard Farina while still being very much their own creation. Their debut EP includes five original songs, all of which feature lyrical melodies, sweetly layered harmonies, and the kind of catchy hooks that make songs instantly memorable. The last song on the album, "Bittersweet" will melt all but the hardest critic's heart.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8

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Title: Sonny Landreth - Elemental Journey

Genre: Rock, Blues, Fusion

Description: Sonny Landreth didn't invent the electric slide guitar, but during his over thirty-year career he has developed a unique and readily identifiable style. With his soaring tone and utilization of harmonics, Landreth has taken an arguably limited technique and expanded it into new musical vistas. The opening cut has Landreth trading licks with the fiery Joe Satriani, while on "Passionola" Landreth and pedal steel master Robert Greenidge combine to create a powerful progressive rock edifice. The overall sound here is lush with just enough bite to keep the upper registers white hot.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8

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