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Grams and Krieger: 5 (Self-Released) 

It's hard to imagine anyone who better embodies our homegrown desert spirit than these two multi-talented, blue-collar and seriously irreverent musicians. If you count their Fluffingtons project (and they do), this is their fifth release and quite possibly their most satisfying. A mix of five originals, four extremely diverse covers and one heartfelt traditional, "Lucky Old Son," 5 not only showcases their obvious strengths—Krieger's slide guitar and their blues-oriented vocals—but also their deft touch as arrangers and producers.

While there are times when Krieger's acoustic slide and Grams' upright bass leave you feeling as if you're in an intimate living room or on a back porch, there are extended moments when the sense of ensemble-playing makes it hard to believe it's just the two of them. This is especially so on their Dylan's "Watchin' the River Flow," with the introduction of electric guitar; and most especially in bringing Nancy McCallion's "Stranger Now" to life with its mix of harmony vocals and complementary guitars.

Occasionally, they do bring in a ringer or two. John "Juke" Logan's blues harp adds perfect accents on their reading of Sam Taylor's "That's the Kind of Woman," while Erik-Jan Overbeek (aka Mr. Boogie Woogie) on piano and Ralph Gilmore on drums show how well these guys can rock in their romp through Grams' "Hey! Boogie Woogie." Perhaps best, and most unexpected, is their superb cover of Tom Waits' "Clap Hands," a rendition Waits himself might enjoy.

More by Jim Lipson

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