march 2011
beyond the blue

shantyBIG SHANTY, Collection--“Got my own way/and it works just fine.” So growls Big Shanty amid the greasy funk blues of “Stop Pushing Me,” second cut on the first of this two-disc, 19-song overview of his impressive musical endeavors. Well, it has certainly worked out just fine for the big man since he stormed into the blues world with 2004’s World of Trouble and has continued marching on like Sherman to the sea, adopting a strictly scorched earth policy as he goes.

sinCOUSIN HARLEY, It’s A Sin--Fans of Brian Setzer who haven’t discovered Vancouver, Canada’s master of guitar fire and ice Paul Pigat would do themselves proud to pick up It’s a Sin, his latest solo offering, which just happens to offer an assured stylistic mix common to the Setzer canon. But Pigat, recording in his guise as Cousin Harley, is the real deal, not an imitator; he just happens to favor Gretsch guitars and the sonic and soulful properties of rockabilly, straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll and classic pop. In his native land fans know him as fronting a variety of bands, touring incessantly and generally never missing an opportunity to make a musical statement, whether that means backing another artist or taking center stage himself. It’s a Sin is a sheer delight, a guitar tour de force and a soulful, high-spirited workout to boot.

granaGRANÁ LOUISE, Getting’ Kinda Rough--Muhammad Ali used to say he was “knockin’ out all bums.” That pretty much sums up Chicago blues belter Graná Louise’s philosophy on Gettin’ Kinda Rough! And like Ali, the bums Ms. Louise is knockin’ out are all men. As she makes clear in her liner note comments, the artist is less interested in the battle of the sexes than in advancing a female point of view about women’s experiences with men.

tasTAS CRU, Jus’ Deserts--Sandpaper-voiced and barreling through life with infectious zeal, Tas Cru returns for a fourth engagement on disc, proffering 11 new songs imbued with pragmatic wisdom concerning the nitty-gritty issues--like letting it come to you instead of forcing the issue, as he counsels in the medium-cool funk of the album opener, ‘Just Let It Happen.’

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