Geraint Watkins

Moustique

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On his fifth solo album Moustique, keyboardist Geraint Watkins -- best-known in the new millennium as a regular bandmate of Nick Lowe's, but his pub rock credentials stretch way back, running through a stint with Lowe's former Rockpile mate Dave Edmunds, and he once led a band called the Dominators, whose 1979 album isn't well-circulated -- sticks close to home, delivering another charming, understated set of well-tailored rock, late-night blues, blue-eyed soul, torch songs, and country, tinged with just a hint of '60s pop. If the blend sounds familiar, it's because not only has Watkins been working this territory since 1998's Watkins Bold as Love but because it's uncannily similar to Nick Lowe's latter-day work, too. Watkins is a warmer, gentler singer -- he never seems the sly fox -- but he also has a knack for crafting small, sparkling gems, such as the lightly swinging "Walking to Milwaukee" and "Crock of Gold." Both of these songs recall stylish '60s bachelor pad music and that's a strain that runs throughout Moustique, surfacing on the bossa nova "Mosquito" and "Blues and Trouble," but he also takes time to play a little bluebeat for "Keep On," and gets just a little earthy on "Shine a Light," which is enough to make this different than all his other records while remaining equally as enjoyable.

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