Local Licks 

This week, we review Loren Davidson, Tracy Cruz, the Karma Bandit, and Saul Kaye.

Loren Davidson, Every Day's a Holiday. Even Jimmy Buffett is subtler than Davidson and his steel drum shtick, which boils down to this line from the title track: Every day's a holiday/Taking work and making it play. "Going Coastal," "Mental Health Day," and "I Need a Weekend" bluntly aspire to trade the drudgery of office life for a day or two in the tropics. Wouldn't it be nice? (self-released)

Tracy Cruz, Feel'osophy. Tracy Cruz's voice isn't a perfect instrument, but it possesses a resonance that helps her communicate with uncommon grace. Cruz also contributes guitar and songwriting to this strong soul debut, produced by her husband. You can take me wherever you want to go/In your car, in your home, in your stereo, she allows in "Let Me Sing," and it's not a bad proposition. (Ivory Sky Productions)

The Karma Bandit, Howdy Cloud EP. Despite sounding like they were recorded into a $10 tape recorder, the Karma Bandit's songs aren't half-bad. It's just one man (a former cabbie, belting out some surprisingly lucid lyrics) and his guitar (acoustic, roughly picked and strummed) on these five folksy tracks. Perfection is for whiners, and sometimes amateurs can teach the pros. (self-released)

Saul Kaye, Jewish Blues Volume 1 Live!. Much as Matisyahu employs reggae memes to express Jewish ideologies, El Sobrante's Saul Kaye takes a so-obvious-it's-brilliant turn by using blues music to tell Old Testament tales. The two concepts fit together like the teeth of a zipper on this vibrant live recording, with a backing band that muscles emotion into Kaye's narrative originals. (Cool Water Records)


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