Peter Case Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John

Aside from chicken wings, Peter Case is one of the best things to come out of Buffalo. He found a degree of pop fame in the late ’70s and early ’80s via new wave band the Nerves and power popsters the Plimsouls but that really was "A Million Miles Away,” to reference a Plimsouls hit. For the past 20 years, he’s been a hard-travelling and prolific roots-y singer/songwriter. Commercial success has eluded him but the fact that last year a three-disc tribute to Case was released (John Prine was featured) demonstrates the respect of his peers. Sleepy John is solo disc number 11 and is sure to please his loyal fan base. Acoustic folk blues has long been one of his inspirations and much of this material fits that vein, with just voice and guitar on most tunes. The album title pays homage to blues great Sleepy John Estes, though none of his tunes are covered here (one early blues, Robert Wilkins’ "Get Away Blues,” is covered). His voice lacks the gritty resonance of his heroes but there’s something honest, real and appealing about it. Case’s true strength is as a lyricist and that’s on display. Opening cut "Every 24 Hours” is a superior "On The Road,” one nicely helped out by guest Richard Thompson, while others show his social conscience, as on "Million Dollar Bail.” (Outside)