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Lofgren, Nils: Sacred Weapon

Nils Lofgren is one of those world-class guitarists who fly under the radar. Sure, he's played in some of the world's most-recognizable outfits (Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and Neil Young's Crazy Horse) and has released 17 solo albums since 1975. His playing is a privilege to witness at any Springsteen gig, but mention the man's name in a circle of casual-music fans and most people will think you're confusing him with fellow E Street-ers Stevie Van Zandt or Max Weinberg who maintain higher-profile side gigs via radio and late-night TV talk shows.

That's too bad, because Lofgren, now (unbelievably) 55, is a prolific songwriter and guitarist who, on Sacred Weapon, wields his years of experience into an eloquent album filled with lamentations of love, professions of faith and even a bit of humor. If he has a liability, it's his thin and weathered voice which actually meshes nicely with Willie Nelson on the low-key opening duet "In Your Hands." Yet Lofgren's voice also makes the dozen songs on Sacred Weapon somehow sound more intimate, and the diversity of material keeps listeners guessing about which direction he'll take next. "Fat Girls Dance" is a tongue-in-cheek rocker with a party-hearty chorus, "Pay Your Woman" indulges in old-style blues and could have appeared on the Boss man's latest CD, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, and the happy-go-lucky melody of "Come A Day" set against apocalyptic lyrics might be an outtake from Springsteen's Born in the USA (but it's not). Lofgren invited such guest vocalists as Graham Nash, David Crosby and Martin Sexton to sit in on a couple songs, and he plays all guitars and keys plus accordion, dulcimer, glockenspiel, pedal-steel dobro, bottleneck fuzz bass and some percussion. But Sacred Weapon's best songs, the album's secret weapons, are the ones on which Lofgren cuts loose with his phenomenal shredding. "Frankie Hang On," "Can't Take the Rock" and "Mr. Hardcore" ripple with his subtle yet distinct playing: slightly flashy, sometimes fleeting and always tasteful. The album's literal centerpiece is "You're Not There," a simmering and dark piece in which Lofgren's sweet mini-solos between verses and two longer solos later contrast perfectly with the haunting lyrical message, and his singing is the most effective on the album.

Sacred Weapon bares Lofgren's soul musically and emotionally and it becomes, with each listen, a greater pleasure to hear.

Track Listing:
1) In Your Hands
2) Fat Girls Dance
3) Comfort Your Love Brings
4) Pay Your Woman
5) Whiskey Holler
6) You're Not There
7) Tried and True
8) Mr. Hardcore
9) Come A Day
10) Frankie Hang On
11) Trouble
12) Can't Take the Rock

Added: November 1st 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Nils Lofgren Web Site
Hits: 2572
Language: english

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