Luther Kent Down In New Orleans

Slip into this steamin' serving of savoury swamp salad — blues by way of the bayou — and discover one of Bourbon Street's best-kept secrets. This disc is cram-packed with wide-ranging influences and musical styles, from the Neville-esque "Down In New Orleans" and "I Got Lost" to Tower Of Power with "Read The Signs," the Chicago-style urban blues of "Cuddy Shark Blues" and the R&B charm of "China Blue." Credit is due to a wealth of crack studio musicians who deliver plenty of rhythmic firepower, impeccable horn arrangements and some stunning solos. Sadly, the credits listed aren't track-specific. Pity. Because this disc is as much about Kent's place in the music he's surrounded himself with, as it is his unholy growl. It's hard to deny that the focal point of each song is clearly Kent and his asbestos-lined pipes, caked with enough soulful sediment to stump the best of plumbers. The tracks fit the singer's repertoire like a well-worn pair of gloves, and the total package of exceptionally-produced songs smacks of a boozy, blues party that pins a mighty groove on a night to remember. The recording's only soft spot is "Electronic Banking," where Kent sounds not unlike the David Clayton-Thomas he's replaced on recent Blood Sweat & Tears reconfigurations. Themes include drinking, more drinking, underage girls, greasy fast food, bars and drinking: the things that matter most. Enjoy this Crescent City gumbo of divergent styles and discover a veritable treasure-trove of voodoo-free, blues-based grooves, played simply, eloquently and tastefully. (Louisiana Red Hot)