Various Artists

Our Side of Town

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Hard to believe that the Red House label has been around for a quarter of a century. Harder still to believe that this is the label's celebration of the fact -- a compilation made up of tracks from recent albums. As far as it goes, it's fine, like one of those buffets where you can sample a bit of everything without a commitment to any one thing. As to what's best, it's simply a matter of taste. Blues lovers will find Guy Davis satisfying, for instance, while those with a bent for harmony will enjoy the Wailin' Jennys and Robin & Linda Williams. Although Red House tends to flourish on singer/songwriters, veteran Greg Brown is a standout -- world-class by anyone's standards -- and, it has to be said, far better than many of the others here, although Jimmy LaFave and Lucy Kaplansky are more than good. In fact, no one is bad, and all are above average. The big question is who would buy this disc, but that's true of most compilations, especially where the label is the theme. Still, it's a good collection of music -- but if Red House wanted to celebrate its birthday, something a little different might have been better.

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