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Cletus Black 

In the Shadow (Night Wax Records)

In the Shadow is where Cletus Black's been far too long. It's high time for this guy's traditional yet unique rock attitude to reach ears outside the Cleveland area. Maybe LeBron James can carry a few of Black's CDs with him on the road and sell them to the folks hounding him for autographs.

On his sixth CD since 1998, Black's songwriting is better than ever, from the bayou-flavored opener ("Stoney Ridge Creek") to the humorous tale of war-between-the-sheets ("Get Out of Dodge") to the slam-bang finale ("Roulette"). Black has paired this sterling batch of songs (featuring covers of Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" and Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey") with outstanding musical co-conspirators like guitarist Kevin McCarthy and harmonica ace Dave Morrison. He sings them in a trademark bluesy voice with a punchy delivery that defines the "Cletus Black Sound." Like Stadium Mustard, Cletus Black is a Cleveland product that deserves to find many more consumers.

More by Steve Byrne

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