april 2008

Al Basile
Sweetspot Records

Add one of the most genial, invigorating albums of the year to Al Basile's sterling resume. The Tinge—so named because the artist's 13 original songs are neither fish nor fowl stylistically, but rather colored (tinged) by multiple styles—unites Basile with his first music business employer, Roomful of Blues's Duke Robillard, whose steady hand is felt as both producer and guitarist. With sax masters Rich Lataille and Doug James sitting in as well, half of the original Roomful lineup is on hand to support Basile's warm, conversational vocals and always exceptional cornet work. Advancing a nice blend of ballads and stompers, Basile offers an array of captivating textures along the way. "You're Still Right (And I'm Still Gone)" bridges grinding electric blues and roadhouse rock, with Robillard spitting out fuzz-rich solos and Bruce Katz crafting a frantic workout on the 88s in service to Basile's mock-enraged vocal attack. A rich urban blues of the mean woman variety, "Daddy Got a Problem" ("Daddy got a problem/momma won't play/daddy got a problem/mama might stray") affords Basile an opening for a discursive plunger soliloquy up front in between Robillard's stinging electric guitar sorties, robust bursts of horn punctuations, and Katz's crying, rumbling organ solos. On the tender side, "Can I Trust You With a Kiss" features the guitar-horns-organ triumvirate in a decidedly gospel-ish, Muscle Shoals southern soul mode (circa late '60s vintage) behind a pleading Basile vocal, whereas the graceful rhythms, gentle, romantic swing and lovey-dovey lyrics of "While We're Dancing" beautifully evoke the ballroom of yore; Basile gives the narrative an ingratiating Tony Bennett-like caress courtesy his sandpapery voice and understated phrasing before closing it out with a striking, incrementally ascending cornet solo. Here, and throughout The Tinge, Al Basile has a good day at the office.—David McGee

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024