Trax 050312

Trax 050312

By Bliss 05/03/2012

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JOHN FULLBRIGHT, From the Ground Up (Blue Dirt/Thirty Tigers): (Four Stars out of Five)
When songwriting heavyweights across the country tip you off to check out a young gun emerging “fully formed,” listen. Twenty-three-year-old Oklahoman Fullbright justifies advance praise from elders like Jimmy LaFave and Jimmy Webb. His live performance intensity’s muted somewhat on his full-length debut, but rootsy instrumentation deftly colors his melodies, from stark piano ballads to tire-kicking rockers, without overwhelming his strikingly thoughtful, well-crafted lyrics. Highlights: “Gawd Above” (“I made the heaven and earth, I made the stars above/ Is it too much to ask for a little love”), the spare “Me Wanting You.” At Hotel Café in Hollywood Thursday, May 10. Johnfullbrightmusic.com

CHICHA LIBRE, Canibalismo (Barbès): (Three Stars out of Five)
Unlike 2008’s “Sonido Amazonico!” “Canibalismo” takes Peruvian chicha as springboard rather than defining element. That may play well in spontaneous live settings, but it contributes to interrupted momentum here, as the enticing beats of “Juaneco en el Cielo” and “Papageno Eléctrico” are flattened by the French spoken interludes of “L’Age D’Or.” But the vibe’s loose and upbeat as the Brooklyn sextet freely melds twangy surf guitars, timbales, mellotron, synthesizers, lap steel and cuatro with varied Latin percussion. At Bootleg Bar in LA Tuesday, May 8. Barbesrecords.com

PAUL THORN, What the Hell is Goin’ On? (Perpetual Obscurity):(Three and a half Stars out of Five)
The wisecracking Tupelo prizefighter-turned-troubadour could be a larger-than-life character from one of his songs, though here he wraps his sly drawl around roadhouse-ready material by other artists. Chestnuts by Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks and Paul Rogers tumble and roll on Thorn’s rubbery blues grooves, and he gleefully amplifies the wicked wit in Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Snake Farm” and Al Anderson’s ribald “Jukin’.” Thorn bares the vulnerable heart of Allen Toussaint’s “Wrong Number,” but more colorful tracks like Wild Bill Emerson’s “Bull Mountain Bridge,” a duet with Delbert McClinton, will likely attract listeners more. paulthorn.com

PHANTOM BLUES BAND, Inside Out (Vizztone): (Three Stars out of Five)
Initially brought together to back Taj Mahal, these veteran sidemen cohered into a slick band in their right. It’s all about musical conversations: call-and-response between keyboardist/vocalist Mike Finnigan and Darrell Leonard and Joe Sublett’s horns on “I Can’t Stand It,” tasty keyboard fills complementing bassist Larry Fulcher’s sweetly soulful vocal on “So Far From Heaven.” They’re best covering grittier classics by Son House, Doc Pomus and Charlie Rich, but as their second track good-naturedly declares, they’re having “A Good Time With the Blues.” phantombluesband.com

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