Storyville by Robbie Robertson
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A Canadian who grew up gazing south across the border, guitarist, songwriter and singer Robbie Robertson has built much of his best music around American culture, as witnessed by his work with the Band, built around narratives steeped in evocative American blues, folk, and R&B accents. His self-titled 1987 solo debut veered toward a more ambitious, impressionistic style that somewhat submerged his earlier sense of musical geography, but this 1991 successor finds Robertson once more rooting his songs in the Deep South, taking its title from New Orleans's fabled red-light district--the symbolic birthplace for of jazz. These songs evoke the Crescent City in the recurrent second-line rhythms, warm horn choruses, and choral call-and-response of the arrangements, while Robertson's unvarnished but indelible baritone and yearning falsetto testifies on the preachers, con men, drifters, and star- crossed lovers of his well-crafted songs. --Sam Sutherland