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Pat McLaughlin

HORSEFLY  • Pat McLaughlin

It is getting hard to know what to say about Pat McLaughlin that hasn't been said before--much of it by me and FG. That he has a truly funky rhythm guitar style that is uniquely his own? That he is one of the most soulful singers on the planet? That his bassist Michael Rhodes and his guitarist/producer Kenny Greenberg are among the best in the world at their chosen professions? All true.

McLaughlin's last record with those guys, Next Five Miles, was a masterpiece, covering all of the musician's stylistic bases: the swamp funk of "Now Look At You";  "Not Far From It," a Memphis soul tribute to the emotions evoked by 9/11; the rockabilly rave-up of "Little Grass Shack." Horsefly continues the wide-ranging, roots-moderne sound of Next Five Miles, but this time lyrically McLaughlin often reins his stream-of-consciousness style in a bit in favor of some more linear story-telling. These stories include tales of lost love ("God and Everybody"), hurting love ("Let Go"), supportive love ("Cry To Me"), unrequited love ("Footprints In The Sand"), and parental love ("Little Child"). When he strays from love, the guitarist returns to the world of abstract word-play in the marvelously Dylan-esque "I Call You." For those who missed McLaughlin's tenure in the would-be super group Tiny Town, he has also re-recorded the fantastic "Baby Ain't Got No Home."

Once again Pat and pals demonstrate their expertise in a variety of genres from Bo Diddley rock to Buddy Miller-type alt-country, with side trips to sea-farer ballads, R&B, and rave-up rock--guitar fans must own this record for Kenny Greenberg's playing alone. Throughout, the musicians make it all sound of-a-piece, while demonstrating that it is all American music, and is all still musically relevant. But lest you think the band in any way carries the man, check out his unaccompanied performance of the dryly, hilarious closer, "Who's Country Now?"

In "I Knew," McLaughlin posits that he "can't think of anything that gets any better 'cause it's old," but he himself gives lie to his words. Though not yet ancient, Pat McLaughlin keeps getting better, even as he gets older.
• Michael Ross

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