Pete Anderson. Even Things Up: Deluxe Edition (Little Dog). This is the kind of album where about halfway through you realize you’ve said, “This is my favorite song,” by the end of each of them. Anderson owns his ax with practiced precision, reminding us all that rock was born from the blues, so you better show some respect for the elder. The record starts off swinging with “Honky Tonk Girl” and revisits the style halfway through with “Dogbone Shuffle,” full of bright horn additions. “That’s How Trouble Starts” hops along with lyrics about a little lady stirring the SHAKES pot with her girlfriends (“Let’s call them Jean and Jo”) and a Hammond organ adds some soul to the background. Anderson drops the bottom out on “Prophet for Profit” and brings back some old- fashioned, front-porch blues with only guitar and harmonica, wailing about hanging his head and closing his eyes, leaning against his favorite tree as he walks in the woods. Although the story-themed lyrics give the songs direction, the instrumentals “Booker Twine,” “Wes’ Side Blues” and “Dogbone Shuffle” tell their own wordless stories just as well. Bonus tracks on the deluxe edition include an enhanced “Still in Love” featuring vocalist Bekka Bramlett, who brings the emotion of the pure blues ballad to appropriately heartbreaking heights. And “110 In The Shade” shows off Anderson’s raunchy side as he sings, “Oh baby, ‘causin’ me to misbehave/ and baby with you, it’s 110 in the shade.” Anderson’s songwriting, multi-instrumental playing and producing chops, honed as a musical partner with Dwight Yoakam from 1986 to 2003, are obvious on Even Things Up, an album that will be hard to eject once you’ve got it in the player.
Anderson will be performing at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 246 W. Willow St., on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 9:30 p.m. Admission is free. 476-4937.
Willie May. Nights of Luna (BMI).
The Buffalo native’s new album is saturated with blues, but is hardly monochromatic. May has played venues ranging from basements to speak-easies, including a prison for added flavor, and his seasoned tracks do justice to his experience. His razor timing, tasteful keyboard interludes and rich, rasping vocals explore Harley rock, slip into the blues, take a jaunt in the tropics and come home to the local watering hole without sacrificing style or continuity. The juiciest asset to Nights of Luna comes out when May starts strumming a ukelele and thrumming the steel keys of a kalimba (thumb-piano) on tracks like “Today’s The Day” and “Go Back Home.” The tracks sound downright sun-kissed, like a breezy vacation, before May kicks into the rollicking “Frog Legs,” infused with frenzied harmonica solos. May’s gritty crooning seams the album together and drives each track through to the end, whether he takes a Caribbean route, a back alley or lost highway. Closing with the appropriately titled “Plastic People,” May’s only fault is that the dynamics start, continue and finish at the same high volume. The guitar solo that could have brought the album home gets lost in the shuffle. Even so, Nights of Luna is sweet and spicy.