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Paul Burch

Blue Notes – 2000 (Merge)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Paul Burch

The tenor of this marvelous record is marked by its title. It seems suited to pensive or even rueful late-night listening, perhaps after the flush of an evening's events, dominated as it is by love songs and sketches akin, as Paul Burch puts it, to the blue notes in a scale - along with the humor of fare such as "How Do I Know," which serves to keep things from getting too blue.

Perhaps even more so than on his previous release "Wire to Wire," Burch has again managed the remarkable feat of making music that simultaneously sounds old as the ages and utterly unique. The sound and tempo does vary from the slightly rockabilly "Long Distance Call," to the acoustic countryish "How Do I Know" (which ends with a delightful segue into a snippet of the Charlie Poole classic "Little Birdie"), the fiddle-driven sentiment of "Oh My Darlin'" and the bluegrassy "Head Over Heels," to the easygoing swing of "Hard Women Blues." But most memorable is the gorgeous combination - on "Willpower," "Isolda," and "Hitting Bottom," for example - of vibes and pedal steel and the drowsy, melancholic tone they lend to this album.