Nils Lofgren

Sacred Weapon

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Sacred Weapon is Nils Lofgren's 17th studio album since parting ways with Grin in a career that's spanned more than 30 years, and it's to his credit that after all this time it's hard to know what to expect from the guy when he makes a record. Above and beyond all else, Lofgren is a hell of a good rock & roll guitar player, but while he gives himself some powerful six-string workouts here, on Sacred Weapon he seems more interested in baring his soul and looking into the nooks and crannies of human relationships than in reeling off solos. Vocals have never been Lofgren's strongest suit, and his voice, reedy and wavering, is not in its best shape here, but there's a naked emotion in "The Comfort Your Love Brings," "You're Not There," "Whiskey Holler," and "In Your Hands" (the latter a duet with Willie Nelson) that compensates for the flaws in his instrument, and he puts a soulful force behind his performances that's inarguably affecting. The songwriting follows suit, and for every loose-limbed rocker like "Can't Take the Rock," one or two deeply personal songs cut to the emotional quick, and the album includes musical homages to two fallen heroes, Walter Payton ("Tried and True") and David Briggs ("Mr. Hardcore"). Some of Sacred Weapon works and some of it doesn't, but what does stick is powerful and heartfelt enough to make this one of Lofgren's best solo albums since 1991's Silver Lining, and proof he can write fine songs of his own when he's properly inspired.

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