Under the Spell
Dave Hole sure plays the hell out of that guitar on Under the Spell (Alligator 4865; 51:05). Hole's unconventional over-the-top slide style created quite a stir on his Alligator debut in 1992, Short Fuse Blues. He seems to have harnessed some of that tempestuous energy on his fifth release, dealing in some mellow acoustic textures and more lyrical playing on "Run With Me," "Lost at Sea" and "Don't Say Goodbye." But he's not pulling in the reins entirely, a la Robben Ford. There's still plenty of slash-and-burn slide work on the straightforward shuffle "Holding Pattern," the slow blues "Bird's Eye Blues," Hop Wilson's instrumental "Chicken Stuff" and on a vicious take of Albert King's "Cold Women With Warm Hearts." Too bad Hole persists in singing on all of his records.