New Recordings: Christina Perri, Luther Dickinson, The Baseball Project
Ratings: **** Excellent, *** Good, ** Fair, * Poor
Head or Heart
- David Hiltbrand
Rock 'n Roll Blues
(New West ***1/2)
Tennessee-born guitarist Luther Dickinson has a new album out, and he also is part of the all-star Southern Soul Assembly, which hits the Grand Opera House in Wilmington on Thursday. Son of Memphis studio legend Jim Dickinson (on recordings by such as Dylan, the Stones, and Aretha), Luther earned his own studio fame with R.L. Burnside and the Replacements before kicking out the jams with the Black Crowes, the North Mississippi Allstars, and his own blunt-force country-blues solo albums.
Rock 'n Roll Blues is a slice of good-old-fashioned Americana soaked in spooky backwater harmonies ("Goin' Country") and Kentucky bluegrass openness ("Bar Band"). But, like those songs, the rest of Dickinson's latest has its wild variations on familiar, even stark themes (as on "Vandalize"). That's his thing. On acoustic tracks, Dickinson sounds as if he just happened onto a lawn party and stayed to boogie, soft and sweetly ("Mojo, Mojo"), hard (the country swing of "Yard Man"), and harder (his distorted acoustics on "Some Ol' Day"). Most impressive is Dickinson's storytelling: He fills this album with tall tales, silly asides, and seemingly personal moments, forlorn and loving, as on the record's fingerpicked, waltzing closer, "Karmic Debt," featuring winsome lyrics of deep romance and respect.
- A.D. Amorosi
The Southern Soul Assembly, featuring Luther Dickinson, JJ Grey, Marc Broussard, and Anders Osborne, play at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Grand Opera House, 818 N. Market St., Wilmington. Tickets: $31-$38. Information: 302-652-5577 or www.thegrandwilmington.org.
The Baseball Project
(Yep Roc ***1/2)
If there is a limit to how many terrific songs it can mine from the national pastime, the Baseball Project hasn't hit it yet. This band of well-established rockers and diamond fanatics (front men Steve Wynn and Scott McCaughey, Linda Pitmon, and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Mike Mills) continue to hit for a consistently high average. And while this third album is as infectiously tuneful as the first two, it also rocks harder in places.
On 3RD, the Baseball Project revels in all kinds of stories, from "The Babe" to the tragically flawed Lenny Dykstra ("You gotta fly high to fall this far") and down to the obscure "Larry Yount," whose story is the album's most poignant. The rockers also celebrate scrappy underdogs ("They Are the Oakland A's"), the joy of reading "Box Scores," and the further adventures of a Pirate who infamously pitched a no-hitter on LSD ("The Day Dock Went Hunting Heads").
As steeped as they are in the game's history, these musicians also excel at baseball as metaphor: "Extra Inning of Love" is a seductive, Philly-style soul ballad that's all about going well beyond first base.
- Nick Cristiano
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1 1 Various Artists Frozen 1
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SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 4/12/14 © 2014
On Sale Tuesday
Off!, Wasted Years;
Carlene Carter, Carter Girl;
Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey, Going Back Home;
Martina McBride, Everlasting