ALBUM REVIEW: Lear delivers raw, gritty blues


February 19. 2013 10:59PM
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Jake Lear likes his blues played with the garage slop of The Black Keys, the Texas twang of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the dark-shades-and-a-pack-of-smokes cool of John Lee Hooker.


Formerly based in Binghamton, N.Y. and now a mainstay of Memphis‚?? famed Beale Street, Lear‚??s third album, ‚??Diamonds and Stones,‚?Ě is an amalgam of muddied roots reverb, Mississippi hill country stomp, and tasty nuanced grooves. Lear‚??s a new-school bluesman that celebrates his elders, yet has a sound completely his own.


The end result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, the album smacks of self-assured, DIY grit. Lear‚??s purposeful vocals on the dark and unsettling ‚??Strange Things‚?Ě are low-key smooth but still threatening. The slight tinge of protest-era Bob Dylan creeps into Lear‚??s vocals, adding to the immediacy of tracks like the juke-joint swindle of ‚??Wasting Time.‚?Ě


‚??Down to the River‚?Ě has a raw, one-take vibe, the track a bristling hard shuffle featuring Lear‚??s craggy, Buddy Guy-meets-Jack White guitar edginess. Lear‚??s attentive, evocative tone glows like shards of glass in the sun on last-call fare like ‚??Jack o‚?? Diamonds.‚?Ě A consummate blues-infected showman, Lear‚??s rambling-drifter tales are as hypnotizing as his musically lecherous trio, rounded out by drummer Roy Cunningham and bassist Carlos Arias.


A lethal dose of 21st century blues emanating from the deepest of Lear‚??s gnarled soul, he does his part in mixing newly intense, creative volatility into the genre.


Jake Lear 'Diamonds and Stones' Rating: W W W W W




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