Here Before

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What was true of Stone's debut album, Somewhere in L.A., was also true of its sophomore effort Here Before -- you still had three Los Angeles residents sounding like a Midwestern bar band. This time, however, Stone increased its blues-rock credibility a bit by embracing three well-known blues classics (Willie Dixon's "I Just Want to Make Love to You," Jimmy Reed's "Baby, What You Want Me to Do," and the Joe Veasey/Don Robey favorite "Farther On Up the Road") and paying homage to John Lee Hooker on "The Ballad of John Lee." Arguably the best thing Stone has recorded, "The Ballad of John Lee" tells Hooker's story nicely and is based on the blues innovator's signature song "Boogie Chillen." Nonetheless, Here Before won't win over blues purists -- Stone is more of a rock band than a blues band, but it's a rock band that obviously appreciates the earthiness of the blues. Whether Stone is playing blues-rock, roots-rock or pop/rock, Here Before is defined by its lack of pretense and keeps slickness to a minimum. The album isn't fantastic, but it's sincere and competent.

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