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Land of a 1000 Dreams

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Album Review

It's taken a while, but Canadian blues-rocker Shawn Kellerman finally released his solo debut after years of tearing it up on the road and in studios supporting Bobby Rush (who he also produced), Mel Brown, and Deborah Coleman. He soaked up a lot of knowledge in those years, all of which he employs here, and it makes him sound like an established veteran on his first album. On initial listen, Kellerman seems to be throwing styles at the wall to see what sticks. He opens with an Allman Brothers Band styled slab of Southern rock, takes a stab at '70s soul ("Never Give Up") complete with female call-and-response background singers, and even works in some hip-hop ("Bug and Shawn" features scratching and a rap from guest HajaBug) without pandering to an audience that is unlikely to hear it. On paper it seems hopelessly, even confusingly diverse, but in reality Kellerman's searing guitar and higher pitched, spoken-sung vocals pull it together. He's a little weak vocally, so the instrumental tracks such as his stunning slide-driven, wah-wah enhanced version of the traditional gospel tune "Pass Me Not, Oh Gentle Savior" and the closing midtempo rocker "Verb" are some of the disc's most intense moments. He borrows popping bass and a general funky, horn-punched Tower of Power vibe for "Whipsnap," and even includes a double entendre slow blues (Lucky Peterson's "Wash My Back") so popular on the chitlin circuit roadhouses he played with Bobby Rush. Like the songs, his backing players are a varied collective (four bassists, five including Kellerman, who plays on five tracks), yet the album feels cohesive despite its musical diversity. While his vocals are an acquired taste, Kellerman's guitar solos are perfectly placed and played with fire and precision. His songwriting is a joint effort, but the tunes are well realized and there is no filler. It's an impressive effort for a blues-rocker whose comfort in a variety of rootsy styles bodes well for a bright future either in front of, or behind, the spotlight.

Land of a 1000 Dreams, Shawn Kellerman
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Blues, Music
  • Released: Feb 01, 2007

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