Sonny Landreth

Acts Playing South by Southwest

Sonny Landreth

Levee Town (Sugar Hill)

Sonny Landreth is a guitar player and songwriter with a Cajun pedigree. He's played with Clifton Chenier and Allen Toussaint, but is perhaps best known for his work with John Hiatt's backup band the Goners and as the writer of "Congo Square," a tune that's been recorded by the Neville Brothers and John Mayall. Levee Town is his third solo effort and first for the Sugar Hill label, and while his first two albums seemed fresh and imaginative, this one mostly falls flat. One of the problems is that Landreth's songwriting feels forced and clichéd. His lyrics never get beyond "the river is high" or "rolling down the road," images we've encountered before and that others have described with a bit more panache. Landreth tries for a variety of moods and styles, yet his slide guitar playing undermines it all; what at one time seemed innovative, now seems repetitious. He seems to have run out of ideas on ways to make his playing move beyond the rote and it drags the whole project down. There are some occasional sparks. The energetic "U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile" and the acoustic blues of "Broken Hearted Road" stand out for their concise form and enthusiastic musicianship. As a whole, Levee Town finds Landreth seemingly out of ideas both as a musician and as a songwriter, and one would hope that the promise he once showed will bear fruit for him again in the future. (Saturday, March 17, Broken Spoke, 11pm)

**

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