Love Dogs New Tricks

The Love Dogs will no doubt get lumped in with the players in the now passé swing revival. But you'd be wrong if you did that. They're definitely and firmly ensconced in big band R&B and blues; music in the same vein as the Downchild Blues Band, Big Joe Turner, and fellow New Englanders Roomful Of Blues. And unlike the most common style of blues, the B.B. King/Stevie Ray guitar-based school, these guys play as a band, eschewing long solos and handing the majority of the short ones to the three-piece horn section. They play mostly originals but also scatter in a handful of covers from the pens of people like Keb Mo and Doc Pomus. They also manage to skilfully mix the ballads and up-tempo numbers. Above all, this is music that's supposed to be fun. They're not pushing back any boundaries and are perfectly comfortable in inhabiting a mature form. They move around in that form with a confident and comfortable air, the result being nearly the musical equivalent of mac and cheese - comfort food that makes you feel safe and contented. They're more than skilful players but don't let the chops get in the way of the music. The only dud on the record is the tepid and pale zydeco of "Watch That Dog." But they more than make up for it with the gospel-ish "Hand It Over." (Tone-Cool)