Chris Cain,
So Many Miles
(Blue Rock'it, 2010)

If you're like me, then when Chris Cain's CD starts blasting through your speakers, you draw yourself up to your full height and lean toward the speakers, your attention caught, concentrated and extended like your consciousness under meditation. This guy is good.

He's got kind of a B.B. King voice -- deep, urban, flexible and unforced -- and the guitar skills to match. He's a fine guitarist; he finds the right notes and gives them all the right emphasis, so that you hear and feel the deep blues but you aren't swarming in blues cliches. His songs hit all the standard blues topics -- life on the road, life in the streets, living the hard way, partying and searching for love -- but even if the topics are standard, the treatments aren't. For one thing, many of them are written in the third person, about other people, so that you don't get that self-absorbed, singular frame of reference that you find in so many of today's new blues songs.

Cain (no relation) also knows enough to surround himself with good people; Russel Ferrante sits in on keyboards and rhythm guitar is played by Robben Ford. Larry Carlton also drops by to play guitar.

If there's one thing to single out on this fine CD, it's Cain's guitar fills and solos. Blues is a call-and-response form, where the guitar answers the vocal line, and Ford's responses are sure and simple, never overplayed or overwhelming, sometimes a single note, sometimes a short but interesting figure. His solos work the same way. He makes sure that what he's playing serves the song; the man is a wonderful guitar player but he never tries to overwhelm you with his talent. He's content to use his instrument to make the song work.

And I'm content to listen. For hours.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

12 March 2011

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