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September & October Short Takes

Eric Bibb "Painting Signs", Earthbeat! Records R2 74382, 2001 Eric Bibb, with the release of "Painting Signs", gives new meaning to the word "prolific". It's been a scant 14 months since the release of his last excellent CD "Home to Me", but then Bibb is a man with a lot to say, and the world's going to be much better for it. The urge to compare Bibb's acoustic blues to that of Keb Mo is irresistible, but Bibb's music is more drenched with soul and Bibb's voice is just plain better. His is the nicest god-given set of vocal cords I've heard since Donny Hathaway. Two cameo performances by Wilson Pickett and Robbie McIntosh are notable on "Painting Signs". Ex-Pretender guitarist McIntosh channels Duane Allman with his intuitive slide guitar solo on "Five Miles Above", which truly soars that high.Buy Painting Signs

Lucy Webster "Keeping My Fingers Crossed", Red Jag RJR4701, 2001 Lucy Webster's "Keeping My Fingers Crossed" is a whole lot better than 99% of what's played on the radio these days. Of course, the litmus test of that is merely to be musically more profound than Britney Spears… Webster of course easily does that with a polished style sounding very much like Carly Simon, especially on "Leave" and "When it Comes Down to It". She's joined by Brooks Williams on acoustic slide guitar on the wistful "Hard Life", which along with "The Next Best Thing" are haunting forays into poignant balladeering, Webster's apparent forté. There's no reason Lucy Webster shouldn't already be tremendously successful in the adult contemporary market except for the fact that it's a very crowded field.Buy Keeping My Fingers Crossed

El McMeen "The Lea Rig", Piney Ridge PRM108, 2001 El McMeen once said tongue-in-cheek that he could make anything sound tragic on guitar. Nowhere is that more in evidence than on Holland/Dozier/Holland's "Stop in the Name of Love", where McMeen prettily twists the Supreme's upbeat classic into a sad, yearning hymn (or as McMeen puts it in the liner notes "I heard an incredible ballad crying out to be liberated from the gold lamé and the strobe lights"). McMeen is an authority in Celtic fingerstyle circles, for good reasons made apparent on "The Lea Rig". His beguiling and flawless guitar technique translates to a mood that will waft you away to the verdant hills of Ireland. McMeen's performance is augmented by fellow fingerstyle guitarist Larry Pattis, fiddler Kate McLeod and Bob Pegritz on whistles to bring that mood full-circle.Buy The Lea Rig

Dave Nachmanoff "A Certain Distance", Troubador TR005, 2001 It's a good sign from the start when an artist has the pull to assemble a cast of heavy-hitters like Al Stewart, Ellis Paul and Don Conoscenti to help out with a CD. Another good sign is when the artist holds a PhD in Philosophy, who better to write insightful lyrics? Well, I wouldn't exactly look for the secret of life hidden in these songs, but Dave Nachmanoff manages to unmask a certain pathos from the storytellers he's created in "Early Train", "All Too Human" and "Glorious". "A Certain Distance" is musically rock-solid folk that will appeal to established fans of Stewart, Conoscenti and Paul. I'm anxious to see how his style evolves into a more distinct voice of his own. Buy A Certain Distance


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