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Album Review

Levine's fourth album veers away from the country chicken-picking on his debut and toward a much more bluesy direction this time around. Although instrumental showcases like Buck Owens' "Buckaroo" (done here as if Roger McGuinn was picking) and Duane Eddy's "Stalkin'" keep the twang quotient at a reasonable level, the Les Paul-meets-Joe Maphis organ-combo shuffle hybrid of "Quiz Show" and the Latin swing of the title track shows Levine stretching his musical muscles in more than one direction. The backwards guitar solo and Echoplex swoops on "Force Field," the ethereal drift of "Far Away," the rockin' "North of the Border," the eerily vibed set closer "In the Dark" and the decidedly non-rootsy proto-funk take on Little Willie John's "Fever" are true highlights of this varied instrumental smorgasbord platter. Levine's tone is excellent, be it clean or dirty, and he never overplays his stance on any given genre or overstays his welcome. But Levine's true ace in the hole (and what lifts this album above standard retro instrumental fare) is how well he ties it all together with playing that positively shimmers in spots.

Lava, Duke Levine
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