Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stringbean -- Layin Low

Ken Sorenson is a musical icon in New Jersey--whether on his own or in a band setting as the leader of Stringbean and the Stalkers. Over the past couple of dozen years Stringbean and the Stalkers have played everywhere and with everybody. Though this is billed as a solo disc, this cd features regular Stalkers Dan Mulvay on stand-up bass, Joe Murphy on guitar, Sim Cain on drums, and Neil Thomas on accordion and organ. Stringbean plays guitar and harmonica and sings. One of the things I have always appreciated about Stringbean is that he puts a lot of songs on each cd. Here he brings the goods on 15 songs, mostly originals, and as might be expected from a group who play sometimes with the great New Jersey guitarist Sonny Kenn, lots of styles are evident. The title track ("Lay Low") sounds like it would fit on an Albert Castiglia cd, and it features a guitar figure that I can't quite place. There are Chicago style songs ("Heart Has Been Broken," "Going Over The Hill," "Mean Red Spider") an acoustic song ("The Rain Outside") Texas style shuffles ("Kill Me (Baby)," "Pain Killers") some funk ("Funky Mama") soul blues ("Live Till Tomorrow," "How Can I Be So Stupid") a fast harp and guitar boogie ("Showplace Boogie") and there's even a reggae number, "Off My Back," which may be my favorite song here. There's also a nice cover of Leadbelly's "On A Monday" that reminds me of Johnny Cash or Ry Cooder.

This is a very fine release--it belongs in my top 10 of the year so far. Every time I listen to Stringbean's music I get hooked by his great harp work, but on the second listen I'm just as impressed with the guitar playing. Then I'm listening to the singing. Every time I put it in the cd player things just move right along--I keep finding myself at the end of the disc and I need to hit start over. I tell myself "One more time." Buy it and see if you don't end up doing the same thing.

You can buy this disc at

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