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Bill Barrett

Carlos Del Junco- Up and At Them

As one can guess from his previous album title "Big boy: some recycled blues and other somewhat related stuff", it didn't take long for Carlos del Junco to become a porponent of musical eclectism while staying somewhat true to a blues background.

With his new release "Up and at 'em", Carlos continues his journey towards new and various musical territories (for the harmonica, at least) and showcases some impressive technical skills without letting the music fall on the side. "Up and at 'em" offers a good blend of originals and covers, acoustic or electric in a wide array of styles that most will enjoy.

At first, the album will seem like a pot pourri of jazz, funk, rock and other latin influenced numbers. Some bluesy phrasing or accents blend with all the other influences to merge everything together. As usual, Carlos never fails to use the harp in various keys and positions within a given song in order to continuously bring a new flavour to it. His tone, smooth vibrato, accurate bends and overblows shine more than ever and represent a benchmark for the harmonica player.

A more thorough listen, unfortunately, reveals some limits to this eclectic approach that first pleases the ear. The wide variety of influences and sounds go against a certain unity of the record which then sounds more like a collection of songs than a an actual 'album'. We find ourself browsing through the songs depending on our mood instead of simply playing the whole thing. A similar lack of unity can be found in the orchestration and production of the record where the listener may go from an acoustic number with minimal orchestration to an electric number where all the background instruments tend to somehow bury everything around in a very "busy" sound. The same contrast can be heard in the playing and sound of the guitar player Kevin Breit who seems to have as much good taste when playing acoustic as he has bad taste on most of the numbers where he plays electric.

The atmosphere of the record only pops its head towards the the end with the last three numbers that, by themselves, seem to be the starting point of a whole new album that will remain unfinished. Unless Carlos decides to treat us with a new album for each style of music he enjoys, which would likely be a few hours worth of good music !

Xavier Lanusse -Cazalé

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