Chris Rea

The Blue Cafe

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A confident and consistent album, The Blue Cafe combines Rea's atmospheric songwriting with larger doses of his slide guitar playing than usual. An overlooked talent of his, it underlies this collection of contemporary sounding songs rooted in dance beats and blues (a strange combination, but it works). Two songs from different sides of the spectrum illustrate the album well: "Sweet Summer Day" is one of the best from a master of summer anthems ("On the Beach," "All Summer Long," etc.), while "Where Do We Go From Here?" is a bitingly perceptive indictment of the emptiness of consumer culture laid against a cool, smooth backing track. All in all, this is one of Rea's most introspective albums and a strong addition to his catalog.

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