Ken Navarro

Island Life

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While some artists prefer to keep us transfixed on what wild excursion they might try next, there's a cool charm with others like Ken Navarro, who pretty much delights each time out with a similar happy-go-lucky attitude and melodies whose beauty compensates for any lack of new direction. The title track to Island Life pretty much captures the overall mood of the sunny collection -- easy shuffle hip-hop groove and a high toned acoustic sweetness blended with Rob Holmes' simmering tenor. While Navarro rarely varies from his pattern of mixing midtempo ballads, punchy fiestas, and graceful ballads, he'll throw in a few unique production twists from time to time. "Pulse Point" begins with a bouncy Gary Grainger bass bed mixed with a splashy rhythm guitar line and spacey, wandering synth line before the more conventional melody kicks in. Those patient with Navarro's set will be rewarded at the end with the 13 minute multi-movement "Try Again," no doubt an outtake from the Live in Orlando date in 1998 and a showcase for the guitarist's skill with acoustic vibrato and electric improvisation.

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