Paul Rishell & Annie Raines
Moving to the Country
Tone-Cool (

cd cover On their second recording together, Moving to the Country, Paul Rishell and Annie Raines consolidate their reputation for cleanly performed, carefully chosen blues. Their tastes, and talents, are almost profligately diverse electric and acoustic, urban and country, elegant originals and covers selected with sophisticated discrimination. Rishell's guitar performances, spanning slide, finger-picking, and electric big-city lead riffs, are aptly complemented by the supple power of Raines' harmonica work. Both sing, though not together, Rishell's hard-driven voice molding itself flexibly to a variety of styles, Raines' a bit more delicate and slyly insinuating.

Leadbelly's classic "Keep Your Hands Off Her" illustrates a common style for this recording, .a strutting cakewalk, strummed mandolin and insistent slide guitar backing Rishell's lively vocal. Marty Richards' drums are especially articulate, freed for rhythmic embellishment by Jesse Williams' strong bass line. On Bo Carter's "I Get the Blues," Raines' voice swoops charmingly in and out of notes while Rishell grounds the tune with gently rolling finger-picking on a high-capoed guitar. The mood waxes urban on "Turning Corner," a shuffling blues featuring a horn section, another Raines vocal, and Rishell mixing R&B and B. B. King styles on electric lead guitar. Rishell also shines on Blind Blake's "Sweet Jivin' Mama," bouncy resophonic finger-picking with skipping glissandos and a casually convincing vocal. There's even a Django Reinhardt cafe jazz instrumental, "Tears," with Raines rendering the Stefan Grappelli fiddle parts on chromatic harmonica, and "Vanessa," an original ragtime guitar-mandolin instrumental that wouldn't have been out of place on the soundtrack of "The Sting."

Moving to the Country is a guided tour to the blues, conducted by experts. - Jim Foley

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