Darryl Holter Crooked Hearts

You can't always judge an artist by the quality of the material they cover, but it works in Holter's case. On his third album, the L.A.-based singer-songwriter (and Woody Guthrie scholar) covers tunes by Richard Thompson, Bob Dylan, Spider John Koerner, Dave Alvin and Benmont Tench, with the latter two also making guest appearances. Holter's eight originals are equally effective showcases for his authoritative vocals; he has a lived-in, ruggedly honest voice that's, at times, reminiscent of Billy Joe Shaver. A strong cast of players assembled by Holter and producer Ben Wendel (Kneebody) includes steel ace Greg Leisz, Don Heffington and Matt Rollings, while daughter Julia Holter duets nicely on Dylan's "Love Is Just A Four-Letter Word." Moody, piano-driven closing track "Midnight In Cologne" is based on the melody of a Keith Jarrett composition, confirming that Holter can be adventurous in his songwriting approach. This is a fine work. (213)