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After spending recent years playing music as diverse as post-rock with Crippled Black Phoenix and "punk-jazz" with The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band Italian-born singer, song-writer and guitarist Karl Demata has put together his own band to play full-on soulful blues. The record he has produced, with help from Chris Heilmann on bass and Merijn Royaards on drums, is a tremendously strong record focused entirely on high-quality song-writing and just the right amount of soloing to amaze without overpowering. Indeed the lead guitar work is simply outstanding on Hard To Find, The Day You Put Me Down, Blind Willie McTell, the list goes on and on. Nearly every track features some of the most sumptuous, tasteful lead guitar melodies and solos to be found anywhere, played with astonishing clarity, never more so than sombre closer The Circus Never Comes To Town. Demata's voice is both smooth and gravelly, little like a slightly rougher Greg Allman or a young Billy F. Gibbons. Cross The Mountain clearly brings in a few jazz influences, but concentrates mostly on a style of blues rock which forgoes the muscle of the likes of Michael Katon and Eric Gales for more measured playing. There are riffs on the rockier tracks which maintain a little toughness, like opener Barefoot Walking Blues, but otherwise the emphasis is on thoughtful songs with plenty of chorus hooks. As good as many blues records have been this year, none are this good.
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