Cary Hudson

Cool Breeze

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You could make a good case for former Blue Mountain frontman Cary Hudson as a rootsier hybrid of Neil Young and Lowell George. He can rock in full-on fashion, fronting a trio, or he can produce a loving portrait like "Little Darlin'" while keeping the feel of the South in everything. His second solo studio outing nestles closer to the ground than the first at times; as with the folky "Don't Hasten Away," it could almost have been recorded in his living room. He does play some blues -- or, more accurately, blues-inflected, material here, like "Haunted House Blues," that has more in common with Little Feat than Muddy Waters (even down to the slide style). If there's one criticism, it's probably that he doesn't rock out enough, although that's not a criticism of the songs here. When he's producing little gems like "Some Things Never Change," which forms a curiously relaxed coda to the disc while having an open, pop feel, it's difficult to feel he's doing anything wrong. But on "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," "What the Old Man Told Me" (an autobiographical piece that ratchets up the tension in glorious fashion before demanding release), and "Jellyroll," he's downright formidable, producing the kind of roots rock that few manage any more, a sort of direct descendent of Creedence in its straightforward drive. With Cool Breeze, Cary Hudson continues to hit home runs.

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