Local Licks 

This week, we review Bill Evans and Megan Lynch, JL Stiles, Jacqui Naylor, and John McGaraghan and Lee Simpson.

Bill Evans and Megan Lynch, Let's Do Something ... As a platform for the talents of two accomplished bluegrass musicians (Evans wrote Banjo for Dummies; Lynch is a champion fiddler), Let's Do Something succeeds. But the real joys are less expected: weary and delicate vocals working in concert, Evans' patience and care with his banjo, and a haunting adaptation of Editors' post-punk song "Fall." (Native and Fine Records)

JL Stiles, Landmark EP. Stiles' voice conveys the gravitas of Eddie Vedder and the carefree spirit of Jack Johnson, but his music may not appeal to devotees of either. Instead, he hits a tougher spot in the middle where solemnity and whimsicality vie for supremacy. Call it a stalemate after four tracks, which is just long enough for the ambiguity to become addictive. (self-released)

Jacqui Naylor, You Don't Know Jacq. REM's "Losing My Religion" and the Rolling Stones' "Miss You" may not seem to belong on a jazz album, but Naylor shows no fear in tackling these and other covers — inventive arrangements courtesy of bandmate and co-producer Art Khu — across her seventh record. In this sense it's not a jazz album at all, but a showcase for the fluidity of music. (Ruby Star Records)

John McGaraghan and Lee Simpson, Summertime in California. McGaraghan and Simpson's warm, bright acoustic guitars bind this collection of hopeful, self-assured bluegrass and California country. Both musicians are skilled as singers and instrumentalists alike, seamlessly trading roles from track to track and proving their chemistry to be as natural as their muse. (Vina Loam Records)


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