Charley Crockett

Lil G.L.'s Blue Bonanza

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Delivered swiftly after his 2018 breakthrough Lonesome as a Shadow, Lil G.L.'s Blue Bonanza is a companion of sorts to Charley Crockett's 2017 Honky Tonk Jubilee. Like that record, this is a collection of covers knocked out quickly by Crockett and a crackerjack support band, but it differs in a significant way. Where Crockett largely focused on country tunes for Honky Tonk Jubilee -- tunes he didn't necessarily play as country songs, mind you -- he has a flexible definition of the blues, one that encompasses old George Jones songs, Tom T. Hall, and Danny O'Keefe's sepia-toned '70s classic "Good Time Charley's Got the Blues," in addition to T-Bone Walker and Jimmy Reed. This eclectic songbook indicates that Crockett sees no border separating the great American roots styles, and what's striking about Lil G.L.'s Blue Bonanza is how the performances illustrate this more than the track listing. Crockett and crew spend some time getting gritty, but they're closer to an old-fashioned country & western band, the kind that wants to be sure the dancefloor is filled from the start of the set to its end. Lil G.L.'s Blue Bonanza swings and cooks, finding an elusive place between Western swing and funky Southern soul. Crockett rides this elastic groove with an insouciant grin, once again sounding more like a jazz singer moonlighting in a beer joint. And that's the appeal of Lil G.L.'s Blue Bonanza: it sounds like the best Tuesday night gig you've ever stumbled upon.

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