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West County Drifter

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Album Review

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Eric Lindell has been marketed as a blues act, which is fair enough, and that’s undoubtedly what Alligator Records figured Lindell was when the label released his first three albums between 2006 and 2009. But Lindell isn’t your typical blues guitar ace, and the blues is really only one element of his approach to writing and playing. Possessing a sweet, versatile, and extremely soulful vocal style, Lindell is really closer to someone like Bobby Womack than he is to Buddy Guy or any other modern or contemporary blues-based guitarist who comes to mind, and he sure isn't trying to be Stevie Ray Vaughan. Yeah, he can play the guitar, and yeah, sometimes it’s the blues he’s playing, but just as often it’s full-tilt R&B and soul, complete with horn charts, and this is where Lindell's vocals come into play, because he’s a fine singer with a natural feel for phrasing and his singing is joyful, energetic, and full of a wonderful warmth. After leaving Alligator, he put out a couple of albums to sell at gigs, 2010’s Cazadero and 2011’s Between Motion and Rest, both of which are combined on this two-disc release from M.C. Records. The two albums fit together seamlessly, and together, they make for Lindell's most accessible and striking release yet, with nary a slack track and several that seriously deserve to be heard by a wide audience. Forget the guitar — this guy can sing. From the first track on the first disc, the wonderful and rollicking “Sentimental Love,” to the last track on the second disc, the equally wonderful “Don’t Fret,” Lindell delivers a blues-inflected brand of pop-soul that never lets down, including a pair of Curtis Mayfield covers, “Find Another Girl” and “It’s So Hard to Believe,” and first-class sides like “That’s Why I’m Crying,” complete with a delightfully woozy horn section, and the infectious train-shuffle boogie of “West Country Drifter,” to touch on just some of the high points of this 18-track set. Sure, there is some great guitar work here, but it is Lindell's singing that really stands out. He just has that certain something in his voice. It’s called soul.


Born: 1969 in San Mateo, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Born in 1969 in San Mateo, California, blues guitarist Eric Lindell spent much of his youth in nearby Santa Rosa and Forestville. Although he worked as a baker by day, Lindell turned his focus to music in the evenings, honing his chops as a competent vocalist and guitarist by playing in bars around Sonoma County. He produced his debut album, Bring It Back, in 1996, and in 1999 he won the John Lennon Songwriting Competition with his original piece "Kelly Ann." That same year, Lindell decided to move...
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West County Drifter, Eric Lindell
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