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Levi Cuss Levi Cuss
Album: Just Below Radio Vols 1 & 2
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 8

A double EP release from the charismatic and heavily bearded Canadian, this mixes up the blues and roots country, although it's the former that dominates, the main difference between the two discs being that Vol.1 features more organ than Vol. 2. Played by Chris Gestrin, it's to the fore on the first of the eight tracks, the funky swamp groove talking blues of 'White Lies' as he bemoans how the overly persistent woman he met in the bar's been sleeping with all of his friends. Bad times women are pretty much the grist here, 'One Night Stand' another dirty slide guitar blues about the thrills and perils of internet dating and some femme fatale who was "purdy and tall - and she loved my big balls", while the more country honky tonk 'Hardwood' has love at first sight with a joint- rolling, sassy woman leaving him "in a goddam hot mess." Although it's another smoky barroom sleazy blues, the Dylan-sneered 'The Hunt' takes a lyrical departure in singing about hunting buffalo out on the plains.

Vol.2 takes on a rockier feel, except the opener, where Dylan meets Steve Earle, opens with the rockier alt-country outlaw guitar driven 'Shoreditch High', written in and about London and provocatively contriving to rhyme "burka" with "sex worker".

The drugs-themed 'Blew It All Away' is again more of an alt-country vein, albeit perhaps filtered through a Lynyrd Skynyrd fog as he sings how the war on drugs is in your head while Steve Dawson gets on down with the pedal steel.

It winds up back with the blues, 'Junction 21' a brooding, sparse groove with puttering drums and spooked guitar and keys and 'Alena' playing things out with Gestrin again underpinning the slow seductive prowl.

I don't think this is going to have the same impact as his breakthrough album, the raw and gutsy Night Thief, but it should certainly have fans tuned in until the follow-up comes along.

Mike Davies