album reviews

Paul Burch
East to West
Bloodshot (2006)

Americana singer-songwriter Paul Burch has gathered a few notable friends to join him on his sixth album, "East to West." Bluegrass musician Tim O'Brien plays bouzouki and sings on the rollicking "I Will Wait for You," and country singer Kelly Hogan adds stunning harmonies to the twangy "When I'm in Love." Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler even joins Burch on guitar on the haunting "Before the Bells," and much of the album was recorded at Knopfler's British Grove Studios in London.

But the most notable guest appears on one of the album's most striking songs, as Ralph Stanley sings a cover of his brother Carter's "Little Glass of Wine" alongside Burch. Stanley's voice is so distinctive that Burch inevitably sounds like the supporting musician, albeit a crucial one, as his lower, smooth vocals balance the roughness in Stanley's.

With such a collection of comrades, it's fitting that Burch would pay tribute to another fan with broad tastes with the song "John Peel" about the late BBC Radio 1 DJ. Burch's homage is upbeat and instantly captures Peel's passion for music: "There's a life there, living in the grooves / And I can feel it when I'm walking in the room."

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 11 August 2006, Page WE06
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