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Ernest Troost: O Love 

It can be a tricky business when a singer/songwriter decides he or she needs to be produced and teams up with other musicians. Sometimes hot players, brought in as ringers, can overshadow both songwriter and song. Then there are cases when added instrumentation simply gets in the way. Regardless, the question that must always be asked is, "Is all this extra stuff necessary and in service to the song?" Fortunately, blues guitarist/songwriter Ernest Troost, who has no problem filling up a stage all by his lonesome, incorporates the best of all worlds into his latest release.

With "Old Screen Door," Troost opens with an affecting guitar lick and vocal that could easily carry the entire piece on its own. In less than a minute, however, the song is propelled by electric guitars and a driving rhythm section that would make Dave Alvin proud. "Pray Real Hard," with a feel for Dylan's "Buckets of Rain," follows and takes a completely different track, incorporating acoustic guitars, mandolin and light drums and percussion. But it is the title song that best exemplifies what Troost has so successfully accomplished. Again, after singing the first verse as a solo, the mood quickly changes with the addition of a folk-driven rhythm section giving the song a bright new feel. This is also where we are treated to the first of many stellar harmony vocals by Nicole Gordon, who not only has a feel for these tunes but for singing with Troost as well.

Part storyteller, part bluesman, Troost has given us a work that not only has variety, but also 13 stirring song portraits, each one artfully crafted in a way that is always in service to the song.

More by Jim Lipson

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