Walkin' Cane 

706 Union Ave. (Lazy Eye Records)

Lazy Eye, the boutique label of Austin "Walkin' Cane" Charanghat, uses the slogan "Damn Fine Blues." Walkin' Cane's latest CD makes it difficult to refute that claim. Nevertheless, 706 Union Ave. is a radical departure for the man.

There's no band here, just Charanghat and his acoustic guitars, and no overdubs. This album isn't incendiary, even by acoustic blues standards. It's a relaxed, front-porch exercise in smart fingerpicking. For those who demand that their blues be ferocious, brooding, and/or insistent, this might be too bland. But those who view the blues as just another folk-music genre should enjoy Cane's playful picking and carefree singing style. Half the songs were written by Charanghat and Rosavelt alumnus Chris Allen. The rest are standards from guys like Robert Johnson, Snooks Eaglin, and Big Bill Broonzy. Damn fine? You bet. It's just not what some might expect.

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