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James “Blood” Ulmer: Birthright

Put aside for a moment the haunted and hypnotizing lyrics delivered from a set of ragged and raw vocal cords on Birthright, James “Blood” Ulmer’s first ever solo album. Just listen to the guitar: a splintered, knotty mess of detuned strings and unfettered twang that only Ulmer knows how to untangle. His blues may often follow some semblance of a standard 12-bar form, but Ulmer abstracts the formula from plain view, ambling along rickety rhythms in “I Ain’t Superstitious,” playing with a stream-of-consciousness freedom in “White Man’s Jail” and shooting off non sequitur spasms of melody in the ragalike instrumental “Love Dance Rag.”

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