George Thorogood tones down his barstool blues on new LP

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 1:30am
  • Life

George Thorogood, “Party of One”: This album of solo, primarily acoustic blues has been a long time coming. All of George Thorogood’s 16 LPs since his 1977 debut have been with some version of his band, the Delaware Destroyers (although the “Delaware” was dropped early on). Thorogood, now 67, returns to his roots, although he never strayed too far: His brand of hard-rocking, party-hearty blues has always been an homage to icons such as John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon and Hank Williams. Those are also among the artists he covers on “Party of One,” along with songs by Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan. After four decades of amped-up recordings, it’s rewarding to hear Thorogood toned down and relaxed.

— Steve Klinge, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Kesha, “Rainbow”: Back when she was Ke$ha, her interests mainly seemed to be partying and making money, which are fine, if hollow, musical ambitions. With “Rainbow,” Kesha has found numerous causes to embrace and, more importantly, her own artistic voice. The feminist anthem “Woman” struts like a mix of Amy Winehouse and Fifth Harmony. The dramatic piano ballad “Praying” uses her very specific version of events involving her former mentor and label boss Dr. Luke to make universal statements about self-worth and recovery. “You said that I was done,” she sings. “Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come.” She isn’t kidding. Kesha delivers potent folk-influenced rock (“Bastards”), country (“Hunt You Down”) and Beatlesque pop. She even teams with Dolly Parton for a rocking new version of “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You),” a Parton hit that was co-written by Kesha’s mom, Pebe Sebert.

— Glenn Gamboa, Newsday

Downtown Boys, “Cost of Living”: “A wall is a wall, a wall is just a wall,” Victoria Ruiz snarls at the start of “Cost of Living,” the third album by the hellacious Providence, Rhode Island, rock and roll band Downtown Boys. “And nothing more at all.” That lyric doesn’t refer specifically to the barrier along the U.S-Mexico border proposed by Donald Trump because it’s about something bigger than that. It’s a statement of refusal to be boxed in, an expression of free will and an anthem of communal determination from a fired-up five-piece band of independent spirit and mind that, at their most ferocious, sounds as if there’s nothing that can hold them back. “Cost of Living” was produced by Guy Picciotto, the singer and guitarist formerly of Washington, D.C., punk firebrands Fugazi. Ruiz is a force to be reckoned with on stage and in the studio, and when she expresses her impatience on “It Can’t Wait,” she connects with the legacy of great punks of yore going back to Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer while staking out the Downtown Boys’ claim as a great politically engaged band in the highly contentious here and now.

— Dan DeLuca, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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