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Hank Shizzoe and Elliott Sharp: Low Budget

Two enigmatic takes on the blues are offered by Swiss guitarist Hank Shizzoe and by downtown New York guitarist-conceptualist Elliott Sharp. On Low Budget (Ruf 1006; 53:51) the Zurich-born Shizzoe (real name, Thomas Erb) demonstrates some skillful slide work, smooth vocals and a relaxed, laid back approach to covers of American roots music, sounding more like he grew up a whole lot closer to the Mississippi Delta than the Alps. He renders Robert Johnson’s “32-20 Blues” with a touch of Rolling Stones-ish raunch, making the claim for Johnson as “the man who invented rock ‘n’ roll.” He also turns in tasteful covers of J.J. Cale’s “Mona” and Mark Knopfler’s “Six Blade Knife,” then turns folksy troubadour on his own “Oh So Near.” On the driving Texas shuffle “Knock Some More” and “Caught Asleep,” he showcases his wicked, warmly distorted electric slide guitar licks, a la Sonny Landreth. To complete this paean to his beloved American music, Shizzoe delivers an authentic broken hearted country ballad on “Sinkin’ Down,” summons up a New Orleans second line feel on “Nobody Will” and kicks in a festive zydeco romp on “I Still Know.” Shizzoe’s reverb-and-echo-soaked “8000 Miles To New Orleans,” a nod to Daniel Lanois’ signature sound, is strictly autobiographical.

Originally Published