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Paul Curreri reflected


This evening there is moonlight on your hat.
Your hands: a quiet bouquet on your lap.
My guitar--I'll do it--
Play this song, and you will look at me.
Blow my smoke the other way,
So you will look at me.

So ends Paul Curreri latest musical peregrination, The Spirit of the Staircase. In true Curreri fashion, this album is full of beautiful images like "your hands: a quiet bouquet on your lap," as well as his fluent and fluid fingerpicking. When he is at his best, it's not only like experiencing Curreri's world first hand, but like he is in your world--a master country blues poet is sitting in your kitchen, drinking coffee and spinning words and notes out of what he sees.

Which is why a couple of my favorite tracks on The Spirit of the Staircase are Curreri solo: the aforementioned last song, "You Will Look At Me," and the opener, "Beauty Fades." On this album, Curreri and producer Jeff Romano invite other musicians to share the space, and one can certainly understand Curreri's desire, as he says, "to give my ear some place to say, 'I need a minute. Can I leave my guitar here? I'm going for a walk.'" Drums, bass, keyboard, and electric guitar (among other instruments) join Curreri's hypnotic guitar to expand the palette of the artist's already evocative songs. While it's interesting to hear him translated into a band context, his songs feel so intimate, so perfectly communicated by him alone, that the band seemed a little superfluous at times. On the song "On the Fiddle," for example, the other musicians sound a bit distant, as if they weren't close-miked, adding to a feeling that they aren't quite in the same space as Curreri, sonically and metaphorically.

That said, touches like Randall Pharr's bass really enhance Curreri's sound, and there are times when the band adds just the right splash of sass and spice. "Drag Some Revelating" was better for the extra shout-out the band gave this infectious country blues rag.

For fans of Paul Curreri, The Spirit of the Staircase offers a chance to hear this endlessly creative artist in a different setting. For those of you who don't know Paul Curreri but love amazing fingerpicking, warm, emotive vocals, and poetic lyrics, you can't go wrong with this or any other Paul Curreri album. As the man says, "My guitar--I'll do it / Play this song, and you will look at me." You won't be able to help yourself. • Judith Edelman

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paulcurreri.com      citysalvagerecords.com

the puremusic review of paul's previous cd

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