Trax

Trax

By Bliss 08/14/2014

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BILLY JOE SHAVER, Long in the Tooth (Lightning Rod): 4 Stars

“It’s hard to be an outlaw who ain’t wanted anymore.” So proclaims the enduring Texas songwriter in a scrappy duet with Willie Nelson that sets the tone for this insightfully written set. If the growling title track isn’t quite Black Keys territory, it nonetheless boasts enough squawling guitars and sonic tricks to beckon younger listeners. Country radio may not call, but the ornery humor and earthy, relatable metaphors of songs like “Last Call for Alcohol,” “Checkers and Chess” and “Music City USA” should appeal to Shaver fans old and new. At the Satellite in Silver Lake Saturday. billyjoeshaver.com


RUTHIE FOSTER, Promise of a Brand New Day (Blue Corn): 3 1/2 Stars

The Grammy-nominated blues/gospel artist enlisted Meshell Ndegeocello for bass and production for this smooth set that finds her penning more original material while also delivering deeply felt covers of gems by the Staple Singers (“The Ghetto”) and Willie King (“Second Coming”). Foster unleashes her gospel-schooled vocal power on the uplifting “Singing the Blues” and chugging blues-rocker “Let Me Know,” featuring guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, but more often than not displays graceful restraint, as with her soulful co-write with legendary Stax artist William Bell, “It Might Not Be Right.” ruthiefoster.com


ANDREAS VARADY, Andreas Varady (Verve): 3 1/2 Stars

The 17-year-old Hungarian jazz guitarist shows more finesse than firepower on his album debut — though when occasion arises, as with Louis Jordan’s swinging “Let the Good Times Roll” and his own adventurous “Day in New York,” Varady proves he can keep up with the big cats. Aside from two elegantly performed Django Reinhardt covers, he opts for harmonically sophisticated jazz/R&B interpretations of pop favorites by Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, the Beatles, the Mamas & the Papas, and manager/executive producer Quincy Jones. Presumably Jones created the fantastic horn charts, one of this set’s unexpected pleasures. andreasvarady.com


MUD MORGANFIELD & KIM WILSON, For Pops: A Tribute to Muddy Waters (Severn): 4 Stars

Muddy Waters’ son Mud Morganfield and Fabulous Thunderbirds frontman Wilson team for a vibrantly performed tribute to celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of the Chicago blues icon, who died in 1983. Morganfield’s chesty vocals are uncannily similar to his father’s, and Wilson’s harmonica work likewise evokes the sound and feel of Waters’ classic recordings. Most of the songs are from Waters’ less-well known catalogue, reinforcing the sense of music both fresh and familiar. severnrecords.com


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