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Music Review: Eddie Turner – Miracles & Demons

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If you didn’t know beforehand that Eddie Turner’s discs are filed under blues, it might take a listen or two to realize that’s what you’re hearing. But Turner’s music is definitely blues – it just doesn’t rely on tired twelve-bar clichés, and refuses to be confined by convention.

In short, Miracles & Demons isn’t a typical blues album. Given he’s signed to NorthernBlues – arguably the most adventurous ‘blues’ label around – that’s not surprising. Fred Litwin’s label continues to expand the boundaries of the blues, and Turner virtually redefines the genre with soulful conviction and some pretty amazing guitar work.

Miracles And Demons is a bit of a concept disc, with proceedings divided into ‘side one’ and ‘side two’ as Turner explores the human dichotomy – pain and pleasure, love and loneliness, salvation (Miracles) and our darkest impulses (Demons). Yet while there’s much here to think about, Turner never forgets the groove – even when he’s veering off into psychedelic territory, he maintains an irresistible rhythmic pulse, thanks in no small parts to supple support from drummer Mark Clark and bassist Jimmy Trujillo.

Turner wrote all the material, two with help from Kenny Passarelli, whose presence is inescapable here – Turner spent time in Passarelli’s band, and the latter returns favors by contributing piano and bass as well as helping out with arrangements. Together the two craft dense soundscapes rich with sonic detail, ranging from the reasonably conventional shuffle of “Booty Bumpin’,” a track that’s a little deeper than its title suggests (think Willie Dixon’s “Same Thing” with a funkier beat) to the impressionistic aural clouds that make up the title track, Parts 1 and 2 of which close out the respective ‘sides’. Elsewhere it’s primarily funky beats and slashing guitars, with Turner and Passarelli building complex instrumental cushions for Turner’s tortured ruminations on life and love, sin and redemption.

In short, this one pretty much stands alone, a unique and visionary interpretation of the blues literally unlike any other. There’s not a weak song or a less-than-fascinating moment, though, and while Turner’s music may not be to all tastes, Miracles and Demons is an absorbing collection from a distinct and compelling voice

Great stuff!

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