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Blues Junk

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Album Review

The blues is so simple and closely defined a form that it challenges a creative musician, who is forced either to imitate or to violate its strictures. Such is the challenge faced by Jeff Howell and his backup band, the Gras Dads, on their second album. Howell, a whiskey-voiced baritone, is steeped in Chicago blues, but is also a songwriter, and while he is capable of writing within the tradition, he also chafes against it, at one point singing a song called "All Cliché Blues" that is a basic John Lee Hooker boogie with lines like "I was born on the bayou" and "I'm in jail." Then there is "Fatman," which is reminscent of Randy Newman, in which Howell notes, "Ain't nothin' cooler than a fat man that sings the blues." And Howell also transcends the blues by throwing in the occasional change of pace, such as the fingerpicking showcase "Bad Limousine" and the pop-rock "That Pretty Little Thing Put a Hurtin' On Me," which demonstrate that he has more to offer than those blues clichés.

Blues Junk, Jeff Howell
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Blues, Music
  • Released: 1993

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