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Robert Cherry 

Paint No Devils (Requisite Recordings)

Robert Cherry's second album, Paint No Devils -- which features mostly somber acoustic ballads and the occasional melodic rocker -- deals with the emotional fallout from a troubled relationship. Cherry alone, with his breathy vocals, acoustic guitar, and introspective lyrics, would constitute an interesting listen. But Paint No Devils really shines when his stripped-down songs get spruced up by his ace backing band.

Former Afghan Whigs bassist John Curley and members of the Toronto rock-band Leviride enhance each track's mood with subtle verve. On darker songs like "Your Absence Fills Every Room" and the title track, expertly placed piano and mandolin invoke a woozy ambience. What's more, electric guitars and lush backing vocals add to the exuberance of upbeat tunes like "New Me and You" and "My Midnight Sun." With Paint No Devils, Cherry and company master the musical contrast between hope and heartbreak.

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