Ken Navarro

All the Way

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When the infinitely melodic acoustic and electric guitarist Ken Navarro closed shop on his own label, Positive Music, after over a decade of solid self-releases (and many underrated projects by top artists), he made the perfect move in signing with Shanachie. Few popular indie labels capture the middle-of-the-road, easy-grooving, simply soulful lyrical charms better than this label, whose roster includes Pamela Williams, Special EFX, and Kim Waters. All the Way is in some ways perfectly interchangeable with much of his best material over the years, full of lighthearted, catchy gems that bear repeated humming upon a single listen. Best among these are the first single, "Bringing Down the House," which takes a few creative chances in its swirl of easy-thumping synth horns and plucky acoustic guitar improv, and "It's Up to You," an acoustic-electric blend whose hook bears more than a passing resemblance to the classic "Breezin'." Elsewhere, Navarro plays it fairly close to the vest, but in an imminently likeable way, from his cool snapping electric on "Hey Cool Breeze" to the graceful acoustic ballad "Learning to Dance." "All the Way" is an explosive oasis in the midst of the cool, exploring Navarro's electric artistry deeper and rolling well over seven minutes; keyboardist Jay Rowe checks in with one of his trademark killer solos. In the smooth jazz world, Navarro didn't receive the accolades of Peter White or Jeff Golub, but no artist had been more consistently enjoyable and satisfying since the genre began 15 years ago.

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