Matthew Stubbs Soul Bender

In the past ten years, there’s been an explosion of young guitar hotshots all inspired by the era when bluesmen like Magic Sam, Freddie King and Steve Cropper ruled the stage and recording studio. Add Boston’s Matthew Stubbs to that list. Stubbs stands out in this recent upsurge, due mainly to the space he leaves in his soloing. During this entirely instrumental set, you rarely feel like he’s soloing simply for the sake of hearing how many notes he can play. Everything he does sounds considered and crisp. While the 11 originals break no new ground, he avoids the trap of over-emulating his heroes by recording a diverse collection of styles. As a result, Stubbs sounds like his own man. For the occasion, guest Sax Gordon offers his booming tenor, ratcheting up the energy on the rockin’ "Stompin’ On Thru.” At 37 minutes, Soul Bender leaves you wanting more. (Vizztone)