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True to Yourself

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Album Review

Although they might not admit it, fans of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan have been waiting for the next Stevie Ray to rise out of the blues-rock circuit, and while countless hotshot guitar slingers certainly have dressed the part, few if any of them have that same mixture of explosive skill and hard-earned soul. New England's Albert Cummings might just be the guy who can do it, though. Calling him the new Stevie Ray wouldn't be fair, certainly, but Cummings, a carpenter from Williamston, Massachusetts, has that same explosive, soulful and emotional tone that made Vaughan so special. He also is somewhat of an "aw, shucks" kind of guy, with very little show-biz about him, but when he picks up that Fender Stratocaster, sparks fly. True to Yourself is Cummings' debut with the Blind Pig label, and working with Double Trouble bassist Tommy Shannon is sure to draw parallels with Vaughan, but Cummings, although his guitar tone and attack are definitely similar, is a much more grounded songwriter, and there is somewhat of a domestic veneer to these tracks. Cummings tackles themes that would be familiar to any working stiff trying to support a family in an uncertain economy, and in this context, the blazing guitar breaks function as nothing short of deliverance. This workingman's approach works well on the best tracks here, which include "Come Up for Air," the explosive boogie of "Your Sweet Love," the moody "Sleep," and the wise and masterful "Follow Your Soul," which closes the album, but other tracks unfortunately fall into a sort of rote blues-rock category. Cummings is an intriguing mixture of everyman humility and blazing guitar genius, and True To Yourself has strong moments, but one can't help but feel that his defining tracks haven't been cut yet, and are perhaps just around the corner.

Biography

Born: Williamstown, MA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '00s

Albert Cummings was born in Williamston, MA, and has made his home in the New England region all his life, where he runs a successful home construction business. He started playing the five-string banjo when he was 12 and appeared headed for a regional career in bluegrass when he encountered the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan in his late teens, and soon made the transition to electric guitar. His first public performance on guitar came at a wedding reception when he was 27 years old, but soon he was...
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True to Yourself, Albert Cummings
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