Kevin Gordon

O Come Look at the Burning

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Singer/songwriter Kevin Gordon always had a few toes dipped in the swamp, but he dives into the murky waters on his third official album, and first in four years. The opening "Watching the Sun Go Down," with its thick, reverbed guitar and riff-based creep, could easily be a lost Creedence Clearwater Revival tune from the Bayou Country sessions. Gordon remains in that groove for the majority of this release, keeping the tempos on low boil and the humidity high. Echoes of Dave Alvin, Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, and Steve Earle float through these 12 songs, but Gordon's expressively ragged voice, sparse instrumentation, and picturesque lyrics stamp the album with his mark. There are also threads of Tom Waits circa Rain Dogs on "Flowers," with its gospel undertones and story-song words, as well as on "Casino Road"'s austere organ and clattery percussion. "Calhoun" is a slow, sad country waltz that wouldn't be out of place on an Emmylou Harris album. But Gordon's harder-rocking instincts surface on a Chuck Berry-styled cover of Willie Dixon by way of Little Walter's "Crazy Mixed Up World" that sounds like a loose one-take studio session. Co-produced with multi-instrumentalist Joe McMahan, who is nearly as much a part of this album's success as Gordon, the duo churns through almost an hour of music that is stark, honest, and obviously not commercially driven. Although it stays rooted in Americana, the album -- like its black-and-white cover shot -- is darker and more ominous than most of Gordon's work. It's a tough, uncompromising work and a logical step forward, even if it is unlikely to attract a larger audience outside of his established cult fan base.

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