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Sonny Landreth
Grant Street
Sugar Hill Records

There are few things in the world that bring a smile to my face and soul more quickly than a really amazing guitar player playing guitar amazingly well. I've listened to Sonny Landreth for years, both on his solo recordings and playing in The Goners, backing up songwriting genius John Hiatt. Landreth's slide work is without equal and he has a very distinctive guitar voice, one that is quickly and easily identifiable. Grant Street, his latest offering, is certainly no exception. The difference here is that this is Landreth's first live recording of his own material. The songs are lively, loose, and full of the generous spirit that live blues music should contain.

The album begins with the instrumental number "Native Stepson", which quickly sets the tone for the set, raising the energy level among the audience and bringing out Landreth's trademark tone. The darkly bluesy "Broken Hearted Road" is think with delta style groove, from the perfectly sloppy guitar solos to the tight rhythm section. "Gone Pecan" kicks the energy up a few more notches, and gives Landreth his first vocal opportunity of the set. The song is brilliantly arranged, with amazing guitar work and driving rhythms, at once recalling some of the finer moments with The Goners. "Z. Rider" rocks in an almost Black Sabbath manner, softly belying the fact that Landreth is traditionally more of a blues than rock player. "U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile" does nothing to slow the set down, instead kicking up the energy levels another notch with its hard driving ride cymbals and rhythmic guitar work/harmonics. Reaching back even farther into the annals of blues history, Landreth plays "Wind In Denver" in the style of old acoustic bluesmen like Lightnin' Hopkins. The difference is the inherent power in his own electric slide guitar playing.

It is sometimes difficult to get through an album of largely instrumental music, as my girlfriend would readily agree, but there are very few moments on Grant Street that afford one an opportunity to wish for more than is already there. The sound is excellent, the playing far superior to almost any other live record you are likely to hear this year, and the songs varied and interesting to the ear. Short of being in the audience, this is as good a live music experience as one could wish for. Fans of Landreth, blues, or just amazing guitar playing would be hard pressed to find a better record to live in their players for months on end.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Native Stepson
2. Broken Hearted Road
3. Gone Pecan
4. Port Of Calling
5. Blues Attack
6. Z. Rider
7. U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile
8. Wind In Denver
9. All About You
10. Pedal To Metal
11. Congo Square

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