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MIKE DOWNES/Root Structure: His awards, chops and resume might be proof his young lion days are behind him, but he can still play, lead and write with the vigor he had 30 years ago without breaking a sweat. A super tasty quartet date that's sure to bring him another Juno, this bass ace is incapable of letting you down. By all means, put this winner on your list.

BECCA RICHARDSON/We Are Gathered Here: Nu folk from a cat that found her alt.voice in Nashville after winding her way around the country. Giving voice to those who feel voiceless, there's a mash up of sorts going on here that reaches out to those who feel they are too way out in left field. A well textured work that has a lot on the ball, Richardson isn't afraid to acknowledge her influences and finally further expand them. A tasty work that delivers.

DOUYE/Daddy Said So: Switching from R&B to jazz vocal to honor her father, Douye makes the switch with ease and seems to pull everyone who's anyone in jazz along in her wake. Classic jazz vocal brought forward, this is quite a smoking set that also shows just how much you can add to chestnuts that seem to have been roasted beyond all belief before you got there. A must for classic fans that want to take a modern journey through the past.

JOHNNY OSKAM/In My Shadow: It's shrederoonie time once again as this tyro kicks it out with his second album and shows that the sound of the suburbs is still the sound of raging hormones looking for release no matter what they say on the coast. Heart being the special sauce that powers this away from the pack of good intentioned shredders, there's an explosiveness here that makes it easy to relate. Hard, hot heavy stuff that delights in kicking ass throughout.

MANNY ECHAZABAL/Short Notice: A rising young sax man and his equally hungry young lion pals check in with a debut of angular jazz for nu ears who don't want their apples to fall too far from the tree. More anti-hate rally than church basement, the mash up is in the air as the notes flow freely. Solid stuff for committed left of center fans.

BENNY TURNER/My Brother's Blues: This is no thrown together jive ass tribute album. This is Freddie King's brother, who wasn't just his brother but his comrade in arms night after night, taking a journey through the past in grand and classic show band style much like Sinatra's tributes to Tommy Dorsey. It doesn't get anymore authentic and heartfelt than this and real, classic blues fans will find every sweet treat you can get on Halloween, Christmas and New Years all rolled into one here. Absolutely killer stuff throughout.

STEVE HOWELL & JASON WEINHEIMER/A Hundred Years from Today: A grand acoustic blues duo that does killer back porch work on hundred year old blues and hokum that sounds like it was just delivered from a time capsule found in the Delta. You like Mississippi John Hurt? So do these cats. Just the thing you need if you are looking for a lo fi charmer that makes it self right at home in your player of choice. Killer stuff throughout.

SAN FRANCISCO STRING TRIO/May I Introduce You: Blimey, do they send me records like this because they care what I have to say or because they don't want to hear me bitch that I didn't get a free copy? Mads Tolling, Mimi Fox and Jeff Denson band together for a string super group that takes the 50th anniversary of "Sgt. Pepper " to the Hot Club and that sparks fly in a way that makes you want to pick up one of these instruments but quickly put it down like a hot potato when you realize you'll never be able to play like any of them on their worst day? You don't have to love Django and Steph to get this, you just have to love invention, chops and such fantastic playing full of fire where you can't see the pyrotechnics but you sure can feel them. Stunningly gorgeous and utterly beautiful.

WEBSTER AVE/Daylight: A trio of boomers out for a good time do a modern version of picking and grinning that has nothing to do with back porch music but has a lot to do with making fun as you go. Unpretentious but not without it's share of thrill and spills, this is a nice set of comfy boomer rock that has nothing to prove but gives the players on board the chance to show they know what they are doing and have been doing it all along giving you a taste of pig vomit along the way. Well done.

PAMELA MEANS/Plainfield: Wow. This is the deeply personal album you wanted Tracy Chapman to make. Alone in the studio with just her guitar and one take tape rolling, Means gives you raw nerve folk/soul that makes you feel the blood coursing through it. The kind of deeply personal album borne of struggle that should scare you away but draws you in instead, this is the anti-pop antidote that will reach you no matter where you're sympathies lie across any spectrum. Ultra hot stuff you don't have to be a folkie to connect with.

Volume 40/Number 289
August 17, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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