Kerry Kearney

Essential Kerry Kearney Band

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As guitarist Peter Calo recently explored music from the Wild West, Kerry Kearney and his band take on traditional favorites as well as original material that fits into those well-traveled grooves. Kearney strikes a solid balance between technician and enthusiast, as familiar melodies dance over a truly inspired set of performances on this impressive outing. "Thank You Jesus" re-emerges in a swirl of Cajun/gospel while "Blues for Alexis" embraces sparse thumpin' old-style hues to express the mission. The five players in the Kerry Kearney Band are joined by 15 guest musicians who bring a subtle diversity to the proceedings. It's a great laid-back party record starting with the driving "Memphis High," which explodes with tasty playing slightly reminiscent of Wet Willie's delightful combination of blues and commercial pop. That short and sweet adventure might be the opposite of "Songs from the Levee," a beautiful moment halfway through the disc, though the two songs could segue nicely if put back to back. And that's the beauty of this collection -- you can put the player on shuffle and it all works as a cohesive unit, different styles finding a synchronicity, each title spilling different soulful secrets. "These Blues" is a sweet and perfect moment here, the band creating another atmosphere for Kearney's serious but moving vocal, a gentle triumph on a disc full of clever surprises.

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