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  • Jonathan Widran


In trying to capture the essence of veteran singer/songwriter’s Vince Bell’s trippy bluegrass, roots rock, avant-garde jazz driven and spoken word dominated Ojo, no less than 10-time Grammy winner T-Bone Burnett dubbed it “shamanism. Avant Psychebilly Music.”

That’s some fresh wordplay, opening the door to this collection distinguished by its offbeat, trippy uniqueness. The collection features two straightforward, engaging Americana tunes (featuring Bell on lead and Laura Cantrell on harmony vocals) surrounded by nine tracks featuring provocative, lyrical poetry read in Bells’ haunting, whispery tones as crème of the crop musicians dance around him at various times with banjo, clarinet, flamenco guitar, guitar, piano, bass, violins, dobro, flute and a continuum.

It may be strange and off-putting at first, but soon the rhythmic diversity and the sheer brilliance of the musicianship and Bell’s compelling storytelling are bound to win you over. Ojo reunites Bell, whose songs have been recorded by the likes of Lyle Lovett, Little Feat and Nanci Griffith, with with famed folkie Bob Neuwirth (co-writer of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz,”), who produced his 1994 debut Phoenix. A musical journey well worth taking for Americana and jazz fans with a mega-sense of adventure.

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