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March & April 2016 Short Takes

Paul Cowley "Rural" 2015 The laid-back repertoire on Paul Cowley's CD Rural goes down easy. His fretwork is a treat with a few rough edges, which is as it should be on a blues album. The acoustic groove he creates is tailor-made for the organic, J.J. Cale-like timber of his voice which serves these tunes well. Cowley's vocals are spot on when he lets the tune carry his voice in tunes like "Franklin Nashville" and "I like a Girl," both originals. The highlights on this disc are the original tunes including "At The End Of The Day," a pretty and lonesome melody with a sweetly played slide, and "Not What they Seem," featuring dirty electric rhythm accents that add a snarl accentuating Cowley's vocal and rhythm perfectly! Paul Cowley dots his i's and crosses his t's on his fourth release with covers of Muddy Waters, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt, and tosses in a Buck White tune for good measure. Looking forward to an all original release in the future from this U.K. Bluesman now living in France. © James Filkins

Jim Stubblefield "Encantado" 2015 I often wonder why mainstream guitarists often fail to laud the credibility deserved to Nuevo Flamenco guitarists such as Johannes Linstead or Strunz & Farah. Their recordings have found a loyal audience among upscale listeners but are often snubbed by musicians who regularly play jazz, blues, rock and classical. Jim Stubblefiled may be the artist to open their minds. His CD "Encantado" is filled with the kind of fiery runs whch are the trademark of Al Di Meola or Paco de Lucia. The latin-infused passion of his playing is authentic, not at all contrived in contrast to the polished, perfect production. I would challenge any smug detractor to duplicate Stubblefield's playing - that smugness would quickly evaporate. © Alan Fark

Mortimer Nelson "Acoustic Syndrfome" 2015 Acoustic Syndrome is an eclectic mix of instrumental finger-style adventures that are hard to classify or genre-fy. Mortimer Nelson's compositions are sometimes meandering, sometimes experimental, sometimes impressionistic, often melodic and sometimes difficult listening. One listen to "Renegade Puppets" will leave you scratching your head. The fretwork exudes classical and jazz techniques and phrasing, yet includes swing, blues and gypsy accents, often within the same composition. From the melodic and edgy "Sweet Blue" to the frenetic "You Must Be Crazy," Acoustic Syndrome demands an auditory attention that can be simultaneously rewarding and exhausting, akin to a walk upon the high wire. Instrumental guitar aficionados will revel in Nelson's fretboard skill and his challenging compositions © James Filkins

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