Al Basile

The Goods

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Singer, songwriter, and cornetist Al Basile, a former member of Roomful of Blues, is on his eighth self-released solo album with The Goods, which, like the previous seven, was produced by Roomful of Blues leader Duke Robillard, who also contributes guitar. Basile has a literary bent that comes out in his tendency to write explanatory notes for each of his compositions, and in the lyrics themselves, which tell stories or at least are based on ideas the songwriter came up with beforehand and worked out in the song. Those stories and ideas range from "Distant Ships," the closing track, a sad reflection on missed social opportunities, to the comic "The Itch," a true story, Basile assures. "1.843 Million" is about a bank robber on the lam, while "Reality Show" is a boyfriend's lament about his girlfriend who wants to put their relationship online for all to see. (Having disparaged computers, Basile also attacks the telephone on "Mr. Graham Bell.") This musical short story collection is set to traditional R&B and blues styles deriving from Chicago, Memphis, and New Orleans, even though the record was recorded mostly in West Greenwich, Rhose Island. Basile sings in a sort of lived-in baritone, and his traditionally structured tunes leave room for solos by him, Robillard, keyboardist Bruce Bears, and saxophonist Doug James (another Roomful of Blues alumnus) with the Blind Boys of Alabama joining in on the spiritually inclined "Lie Down in Darkness (Raise Up in Light)." The album's diversity demonstrates that, under the umbrella term "blues," many different kinds of songs and styles of music can fit comfortably.

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