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CD Review: Mose Allison

The Way of the World Anti-)

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Mose Allison's first album in 12 years stretches the sardonic singer's palette, introduces daughter Amy Allison in her blowsy, questionably pitched "This New Situation," and highlights his brawny, barrelhouse-based piano. At 82, Allison still sounds as witty and sly as he did in the '50s and '60s, when he produced classics like "Parchman Farm," "Your Mind Is on Vacation" and "Young Man Blues" (which the Who appropriated to powerful effect.) Here, Allison recasts Willie Dixon's catchy "My Babe" as the funny, caustic "My Brain," savages religious friction in "Modest Proposal," reaffirms his knowing outsider status in the tart "Ask Me Nice" and, in "Crush," showcases his Monkish piano chops. There's range and authority, and Joe Henry's transparent, low-fi production serves Allison well. His voice, never that big, remains disarming and persuasive, and Henry's notion of dressing it up with saxophone, guitar and mandola was a good move. Allison continues to bridge jazz and blues, and remains effortlessly hip. And Henry, whose liner notes are sweet and eloquent, has succeeded in his second reclamation project, eight years after his production of Solomon Burke's Don't Give Up on Me breathed new life into that soul singer's career. Even minor Mose like this yields major pleasure. — Carlo Wolff

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