Doug Wamble

Doug Wamble

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For a jazz guitarist, Doug Wamble is one hell of a soul man -- not just his playing, but his writing, and especially his voice, which lies somewhere between Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. His background is evident in some of the chords he uses, but he hides it well, and the songs come across as lovely soul, as on the delicious "Sweet Return to Madness" and "It May Be a Dream," where the violin and voice of Carrie Rodriguez add some lovely delicacy to the proceedings. Wamble's guitar work takes a back seat for some of the disc, although he takes off on slide on the gospel-flavored "Bitter Angels" and works with Charlie Hunter on the opener, "Think About It All," while the slow build of "Oh Heaven," with its piano backdrop, offers a superb frame for his restrained solo. But this is an album that's about the song, not playing technique, and Wamble shows himself to be a songwriter of true talent. After all that soul, the jazz of "I Needn't Try," although definitely displaying Wamble's roots, stands out like a sore thumb. It all closes with a cover of Fiona Apple's "I Know" that returns Wamble to acoustic guitar, his natural instrument, giving a spare, aching version of the song. It's a soft, ideal closer to a lovingly crafted disc.

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