Bob Neuwirth

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More a legend (or is it footnote?) in the music business than a real presence, Bob Neuwirth came back to record-making with this easy-going effort, during which he sang, in a country twang sometimes reminiscent of Willie Nelson, over a bed of acoustic stringed instruments -- guitar, mandocello, dobro, banjo, violin, bass -- mostly played by an informally reunited lineup of The Alpha Band (T-Bone Burnett, producer J. Steven Soles, and David Mansfield). Neuwirth's reportedly improvised songs are sometimes delicately romantic, sometimes slyly humorous, and there's even a Western-flavored gambling ballad. While the album fails to justify the legend (what could?) or even Burnett's sleeve note about Neuwirth being "the best pure songwriter of any of us," it nevertheless presents a good singer/songwriter who might give Townes Van Zandt or Guy Clark competition if he ever approached music as a full-time occupation.

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