Nick Curran's second album for Blind Pig Records features more of the retro-R&B that helped nab him the 2004 W.C. Handy Award for Best New Artist Debut. Once again, guitarist/vocalist Curran, drummer Damien Llanes, and bassist Preston Hubbard deliver an impressive old-school blues album that should catch newcomers off guard as well as please longtime fans. Showcasing a slightly harder edge à la Bee Houston, Player! flows nicely between uptempo shouters, slow and dirty ballads, and swing numbers. To these ends, Curran rips into the Little Richard speedball "Heeby Jeebies," does what he did for the Sonics' "Shot Down" to the Stooges' "No Fun," and outshouts Wynonie Harris on "Down Boy Down." It's Curran's originals, though, that usually make the biggest impression, and on that score Player! features some of his best. Notably, the title track is a rambunctious ass-mover that sticks in your ear and "Come Back" features Curran crooning against string backgrounds. Similarly, "Leavin'" is a slow shuffle with a nice twangy melody and "The Groovy Jam" finds Curran delving into Tiny Grimes-style rockin' swing with devastating charm. One of Curran's most diverse albums to date, Player! also features stellar performances by harmonica player Kim Wilson, guitarist David Leroy Biller, saxophonists John Doyle and Paul Klemperer, and Roomful of Blues' Providence Horns.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar