Van Wilks

21st Century Blues (Texas '51)

Texas Platters

First, Austin guitar slinger emeritus Van Wilks n-a-i-l-s Billy Gibbons' ranchero drawl on 21st Century Blues opener "Strange Girl," fast broadside to ZZ Top's "Rough Boy." Then the Houston trio's bearded icon himself voices "Drive By Lover," a post-Eliminator-revving bauble built by the pair of stringbenders who once shared management. Blues polished to digital perfection don't cease there. "Just Walk Away" sets a dusky ballad of steely strings and coyote lonesome early in a wily album sequence wherein rejoinder "There's a Sin in There Somewhere" follows with locomotive slide chills. A fire pit smolder carpes diem throughout, notably on the aquatic ebb and glow of the title track and plaintive "If I Were a Richman." Sammy Hagar's "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy" gains a cousin with "Can't Stop Thinkin'." Seventies or Eighties, 21st Century Blues would've stuck in your ride's tape player.

***.5

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