Terry Evans

Blues for Thought

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Produced by Evans' former employer Ry Cooder, Blues for Thought often sounds like a Cooder album with a great singer. Better yet, Cooder has retained the services of some A-list studio cats, but manages to make them sound like drunken denizens of a Mississippi roadhouse. With the legendary Jim Keltner leading the way with his powerhouse thwacka-thwacka, and Cooder laying down his usual ultra-soulful licks, Evans and company groove mightily though a collection of first-rate material, including blues classics and Evans originals that sound like classics. Highlights are numerous, but one is the second song, "Hey Mama, Keep You Big Mouth Shut," which is almost assuredly the only version of a Bo Diddley tune to feature an oud. "That's the Way Love Turned Out for Me" is also a gem; a soul ballad featuring some absolutely gorgeous Cooder slide guitar, the tune allows Evans to show that he is much more than just a gruff blues shouter. Sonically, the record is a sweet audiophile pleasure, with lots of open space; natural reverb; and nasty, nasty guitar tones. Perhaps the only area in which Blues for Thought is lacking is the performance of Evans himself. Make no mistake, he's an amazingly powerful and sublimely tasteful singer, but he somehow comes off as a bit one-dimensional. He hits all the right moves, but, unlike the greatest blues, soul, and gospel singers, just doesn't seem to be especially emotionally invested in the tunes; it's fun, to be sure, but just not as gut-wrenching as it could be. That said, there is enough great musicianship and prime Ry Cooder guitar playing to make the disc a very worthwhile listen.

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