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Everlasting Arms [Digipak] *


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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Luke Winslow-King (vocals, guitars); Ben Polcer (trumpet, piano, percussion); Cassidy Holden (upright bass, electric bass); Benji Bohannon (drums, percussion); Esther Rose King (washboard, percussion).
  • Recording information: Jambona Lab Studio, Italy; Parlor Studios, New Orleans, LA; Piety Street Studios, New Orleans, LA; Sauna Studio, Arabi, LA.
  • Photographer: Akasha Rabut.
  • Arranger: Luke Winslow-King.
  • Some blues and jazz artists enamored of vintage styles go out of their way to sound rough and raw in the belief it makes them seem more "authentic," as if great artists of the past regularly earned a following by sounding as if they could barely play. Luke Winslow-King, thankfully, believes in no such foolishness; on his fourth album, Everlasting Arms, he steps out like a gentleman of the blues, one who can play with force and feeling and pick with no small ability, but sounds just as much at home in the front parlor as at the juke joint on the other side of town. This speaks to Winslow-King's versatility, as he can play an easygoing jazz-based number like "I'm Your Levee Man" just as convincingly as he can tear into the rollicking Delta fury of "Swing That Thing" or the Latin-meets-New Orleans swing of "La Bega's Carousel." Winslow-King isn't a show-off on guitar (OK, he does strut a bit in "Interlude I [As It Goes]," but he doesn't wear out his welcome), but his rhythm work is always solid, and when he eases into a solo, it's invariably clever, tuneful, and to the point, and suits the tenor of the tune. Winslow-King is also a fine singer, with a clear, polished instrument and a flexible sense of phrasing that can bend with the demands of his eclectic repertoire without sounding like he's trading one cliche for another when he changes directions. He has a fine vocal partner in Esther Rose King, and they deliver a pleasing duet on "Wanton Way of Loving," while Winslow-King's various accompanists deliver performances that are expert while respecting the songs. And Winslow-King's songwriting is every bit as impressive as his vocals and instrumental work, especially on the atmospheric "Last Night I Dreamed My Birthday" and the high-stepping "Cadillac Slim." Luke Winslow-King may sound like a gentleman on Everlasting Arms, but one listen to this album will convince you that when it comes to music, nice guys really can finish first. ~ Mark Deming
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