Boz Scaggs returns to the arena in the thoroughly modern Dig, four years after his much-acclaimed return to traditional R&B on Come on Home. This takes no small bit of courage for an artist like Scaggs, who has reveled in obscurity for most of the '80s and '90s. Come on Home won the man all sorts of critical platitudes for making unfashionable roots music in a highly unlikely time. It showed, of course, in that the record sold barely respectably. Dig is, if anything, a hyper-modern take on R&B. Scaggs and co-producers David Paich (who co-wrote virtually all the material here) and guitarist Danny Kortchmar have embraced modern production, recording, and mixing techniques in the same way Scaggs did on Silk Degrees (whose part two this is definitely not). The result is simply a very fine adult contemporary take on rhythm & blues that showcases Scaggs in the finest voice he's given us in decades, a solid batch of tunes, and very few irritating elements. Scaggs' use of hip-hop methodologies in tracks like "Desire," with Michael Rodriguez's programming, is subtle enough to add atmosphere to an already beautiful song. The tune is a ballad so smooth and streetwise, so late-night in feel and sentiment, the Timberland rhythm just underlines the spooky guitars and Scaggs' sweet crooning; in fact, his voice here sounds better than it ever has. There are other modernisms that Scaggs employs here that would have been better left on the cutting room floor, such as his insistence on rapping on "Get On the Natch," where he sounds like a Wal-Mart cross between Frank Zappa on "Dina Moe Hum" and Tom Waits from Bone Machine. But there are only a couple of moments like that; his blues roots manifest themselves well on "King of El Paso" and his embrace of Latin-tinged pop suits him well on "Call That Love." While it's a slick record in typical Scaggs fashion, it's a slim cast of characters who pull it all off -- mainly Scaggs, Paich, and Kortchmar (who is as fine a guitarist as ever), with guests like Ray Parker, Jr., pedal steel god Steve Lukather, and jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove Jr. lending their hands in various spots. For a guy everybody said was in the hallmark of memory, Boz Scaggs is making remarkably refreshing and compelling music. Dig is mature enough to resonate well with his aging audience, and it's slick and polished enough to catch the ear of pop radio programmers. With precious few rough spots, Dig is a pop triumph by a sleight-of-sound master.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek