When Delbert McClinton announces with his latest album that he has Room To Breathe, he sure ain't kidding. After more than four decades of making music, McClinton is breathing freely with the confidence and energy of an artist who knows that he has mastered his game. Still basking in the glow of a new Grammy(r) Award, he has followed up what The Wall Street Journal declared his "best recording ever" -- 2001's Nothing Personal -- with a set that displays even greater muscle, smarts, charm and soul.
Texas roadhouse veteran Delbert McClinton hit upon his masterful mix of country, blues, and R&B stylings decades ago, but it took the Grammy-winning 2001 release, Nothing Personal, to fully showcase his talents. Room to Breathe, once again benefiting from a diverse selection of original McClinton songs, updates and embellishes the approach with most of the same participants present. McClinton uses his classic blue-eyed-soul voice with full authority and more than a little eclecticism, bouncing through "Blues About You, Baby" with an almost Jerry Lee Lewis boogie feel, while infusing the snaky "Jungle Room" with laid-back nightclub coolness. "Ain't Lost Nothin'," cowritten with producer Gary Nicholson and harp hero Kim Wilson, is the purest blues expression, although the piano-led ballad "Everything I Know About the Blues," a McClinton-Nicholson tune cowritten by Heartbreaker Benmont Tench, also works well. McClinton rocks through "Same Kind of Crazy," gets funky on "The Rub," and even conjures a distant Lynryd Skynyrd echo on the uptempo "Money Honey." Yet his biggest effort is saved for the star-studded sing-along "Lone Star Blues," a tribute to Texas complete with fiddle and pedal steel guitar and featuring an anthemic country chorus from a host of famous McClinton friends and fans. --Michael Point
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