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Will Kimbrough

Sideshow Love – 2014 (TBA)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Will Kimbrough

Will Kimbrough's been around a long time, with his early band Will & the Bushmen signed to a short-lived major label contract and his tenure in the Bis-Quits with Tommy Womack a notable footnote, but despite extensive credits as an artist he's still mostly lauded for his production, songwriting and sideman roles for others including Todd Snider and Jimmy Buffett. The Willie Sugarcapps ad hoc collective he formed with Grayson Capps and other Alabama natives released a great rootsy album last year, and that loose-knit Americana blend seems to have carried over to Kimbrough's latest solo album.

Praised as a guitarist as well as a songwriter, it's more rare to hear plaudits for Kimbrough's singing - a song such as Soulfully ought to bring his vocals into the conversation as well with its appropriately soulful attitude. I Want Too Much brings his acoustic guitar work to the forefront again without sacrificing the emotive aspect of his confessional songs, which employ metaphor in the service of personal ruminations.

Kimbrough brings out the humor more often on this collection, including the sentimental mirth of Dance Like Grownups Dance and Sideshow Love as well as the more conventionally comedic exercise Home Economics. He dabbles in some pretty credible blues on occasion, too. All We Can Do Is Love utilizes a Delta blues style backdrop to frame a resigned lamentation, while another blues riff powers the quietly chugging album opener When Your Loving Comes Around to a call-and response chorus with Lisa Oliver-Gray.

The chameleon-like character of Kimbrough's latest is a testament to his many hats in the music industry; he's whatever he needs to be at the time. In less capable hands that would mean an unfocused, scattershot effort, but in this case the variety just adds to the enjoyable nature of the album.