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Album Review

Known for his production work with everyone from Frank Black to Nick Lowe, guitarist Jon Tiven also makes bluesy pop/rock in his spare time. Working with former Arrows frontman Alan Merrill, drummer Todd Snare (Wilson Pickett, P.M. Dawn), and Sally Tiven (his wife and former B.B. King bassist), Tiven has a wonderful talent for soulful blues-rock without a trace of needless guitar exercises. Tiven is all about the songs and puts more effort into writing good hooks and riffs than anything else. That may partially be why his talents as a guitarist are so underrated, but even his incidental playing on songs like "I Smell Smoke" is littered with perfect little flourishes and fills. His talents as a lyricist are not quite as impressive, but the excellent performance from Merrill makes lines like, "Ooh honey, this party's off the hook/I have to take a closer look" sound like Shakespeare when paired with Tiven's subtle guitar work. With so many blues-rock albums popping up every year, it is easy for a release like this to slip through the cracks. But to fans of the genre, this is some smoking stuff that contains these performers' best work in a long time. Professional sidemen don't often get showcases this impressive, but anyone wondering what these musicians do when they're left to their own devices should invest in Blue Guru.

Blue Guru, Jon Tiven's Ego Trip
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