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This article was published 4/12/2009 (3119 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CHUCK PROPHET / °Let Freedom Ring! (Yep Roc Records)
Chuck Prophet has been banging out a living in the music industry since he was a teenager, when he toured the world with cult roots act Green on Red. He's released eight previous solo albums, all filled with songs that should have seen him mentioned in the same breath as Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.
On his ninth album, the crack guitarist (and former crack junkie) might just accomplish that. Let Freedom Ring! is a study of the failed American dream, an indictment of misplaced patriotism and a fantastic rock 'n' roll record. It's raw in spirit but refined in presentation: it combines the feeling of being thrashed out in a garage with attention to detail — touches of fiddle, shoop-shoop backup vocals, harmonica and piano — that belies its tossed-off attitude.
The ironically anthemic title track looks at a time where "the hawk cripples the dove," while Barely Exist is a moving, eloquent to Mexican immigrant workers, and the scorching guitar on the dirty boogie Where the Hell Is Henry? is balanced with the measured, Stonesy strut of the sultry come-on Hot Talk. Bombastic and tender, this might be Prophet's best work yet. 4-1/2 stars
— Jill Wilson
JIMMY WAYNE / Sara Smile (Valory/Open Road)
Jimmy Wayne is a survivor. He's endured a runaway father, an imprisoned mother, a murderous stepfather, endless foster homes and life on the streets before finally finding a loving home. His career mirrored his personal life in 2005 when his record label Dreamworks shut its doors. Eventually he found a home with Valory.
Through all this Wayne has maintained a positive attitude that extends to making Sara Smile an uplifting exercise in love and hope. Things I Believe and Just Knowing That You Love Me are up-tempo and optimistic country pop. Just Look at You and Elephant Ears are tender ballads. The soulful title track is a faithful cover of the Hall & Oates classic, complete with an appearance by the dynamic duo. (It's also the song he sang to score that first record deal.)
Jimmy Wayne's Sara Smile is radio-friendly mile marker in a potentially lengthy career. 3-1/2 stars
— Bruce Leperre