C.R. Avery Magic Hour Sailor Song

The latest from Vancouver beat boxer/poet/harmonica player C.R. Avery opens with the superb "The Boxer Who Just Returned From London,” with Avery’s beat boxing skills and some sparse violin serving as a backdrop for a spoken word story that uses the sweet science as a metaphor for writing poetry. It’s an album highlight and a great way to begin this mixed bag of songs, which draws on numerous musical styles, including spoken word, hip-hop, blues, jazz, rock, country, gospel and more. While his raspy voice doesn’t do much for a tune, Avery projects the poetic gutter rawness of artists like Beck, Buck 65, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. And his lyrics, whether straightforward narrative or abstract thoughts, are almost always engaging. However, what holds the whole album together is his harmonica playing and beat boxing, which are best when done at the same time, as he demonstrates on "Hell of a Hotel of Harm.” Magic Hour Sailor Songs is a great collection of music that inspires thoughts of dark, dingy, smoky bars and coffee houses. And when it’s all over, if you still haven’t had enough, there’s a booklet of bonus poems to work your way through. (Bongo Beat)