Paul Burch

Blue Notes

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It's impossible to hear this without being frequently reminded of Bob Dylan in his Nashville Skyline phase at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s. There's that same strain to be unforced and easygoing, as if to admit to any measure of doubt or sadness would amount to a cardinal sin. This doesn't necessarily lead to bad music, but it does kind of put a limit of the range of moods through which it takes the listener. It doesn't help that on the key hook of "Isolda," Burch repeats "I want you so bad," although at least the melody is different from the one Dylan used when he sang those words himself on his classic "I Want You." Still, Burch isn't a clone of Dylan in his country phase. The songs are pleasant and tightly arranged, with more attention to nuance than much plainly executed turn-of-the-twenty-first-century country music; particularly pleasurable are the occasional dabs of vibraphone, and the use of slide, pedal, and organ helps too. By and large this is devoted to good-natured love songs, and in this context "Carter Cain"--a dramatic, minor-keyed troubadour ballad with an actual sense of haunted tension--is a standout. On the whole, though, it's comfortable yet unchallenging listening.

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