Ray Bonneville Rough Luck

Heady from the recent win of a Juno for "Best Blues Album," for his '99 release, Gust Of Wind, Ray Bonneville is on a much-deserved roll. Hailing from Montreal, Bonneville has released a number of albums to nobody's particular attention, each one better than the last. Rough Luck provides an intimate glimpse of his stripped-down talents as a distinctive singer/songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player, and fascinating insight into the pure roots of his blues-based sound. Traditionally, Bonneville slips between many genres: blues, folk, rock. Yet, Rough Luck showcases a jaunty, country blues sound that highlights his gentle, soulful vocals, tranquil guitar-picking and mournful harp playing. Bonneville's most distinctive trait - aside from his ability to craft fine songs - is his voice, which is a cross between pre-VH1 Eric Clapton, J. J. Cale, and Willy DeVille. From the upbeat, tongue-in-cheek John Prine feel of the lusty "Wild Thing With You" to "Roll With The Punches" recalling Mississippi John Hurt in its front porch, fancy finger-picking style, Bonneville makes it all look and sound so simple. Or "Raven Bill" - a quick but tasteful instrumental slide blues snippet that hints at Bonneville's technical adeptness on the guitar. Lovingly produced by fellow singer/songwriter and blues picker extraordinaire Tim Williams, Rough Luck serves up a smorgasbord of songwriting styles and a satisfying meal at that. (Prime CD)