By Dan Pavelich
Western Stars (Columbia)
I have wondered all of my life, if Bruce Springsteen was born and raised in New Jersey, why then does he sing with an old-timey cowboy accent? Even his speaking voice might leave you thinking that he might be Sam Elliot’s little brother. I do believe the answer is revealed in Springsteen’s latest work, “Western Stars.”
Here, The Boss dons a cowboy hat and lets his inner John Wayne take over. Taking us on old Route 66, he is a high plains drifter of a new sort, reveling in endless blue skies and postcard vistas that still truly exist, if you take the time to search them out. From the opener “Hitch Hikin’,” to the closer, “Moonlight Motel,” this is a masterpiece for the lonely souls, the drovers, the stuntmen, the pioneers and the Western swing bands that once toured the two-lane highways.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
The Traveler (Concord)
Kenny Wayne Shepherd latest is a chameleon of sorts. My initial impression was that it sounded more commercial than previous releases. In fact, several of these, the mid-tempo roadhouse rocker “Woman Like You” and the pretty ballad “Tailwind,” could easily be contemporary country hits. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
That being said, there are plenty of Shepherd’s trademark searing Stratocaster leads, which for me, is why he’s always worth a listen. Gritty covers of Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul” and Joe Walsh’s “Turn To Stone” are the stand-outs, and proof positive of what this band can do with a great song fueling them.
The Black Keys/Let’s Rock (Nonesuch)
The Allman Betts Band/Down To The River (BMG)
Chris Brown/Indigo (RCA)
Ingrid Michaelson/Stranger Songs (Cabin 24)
Various Artists/Woodstock 50th Anniversary (Atlantic)
Kylie Minogue/Definitive Collection (BMG)
The Alarm/Sigma (21st Century)
Iggy Pop/Zombie Birdhouse (Caroline)
Tyga/Legendary (Last King’s Music)
CD’s Provided By CD-DVD-Games Warehouse, 3717 80th Street, Kenosha, Wi, 53142,