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LOVE AND BLOOD Shane Ni­chol­son Uni­ver­sal/ Lost High­way www.sha­neni­chol­

Queens­lan­der Shane Ni­chol­son won an ARIA award as well as a Golden Gui­tar tro­phy for his pre­vi­ous solo re­lease Hell Breaks Loose, how­ever his singer-song­writer style of mu­sic of­ten tran­scends the coun­try genre. Armed with an earthy voice in the vein of Lyle Lovett, Ni­chol­son de­liv­ers an­other 12 qual­ity tracks on Love And Blood, in­clud­ing the ex­cel­lent ‘Driv­ing Me Mad’ and the classy ‘Stay’. He slips into rock­a­billy mode on ‘I Don’t Dance’, and gets dev­il­ish on the bar room-styled ‘God’s Own Army’ along with a Louisiana horn sec­tion and a rowdy cast of vo­cal­ists in­clud­ing Josh Pyke. US artist Buddy Miller adds back­ing vo­cals as well as play­ing the ‘man­dola’ on ‘One Trick Pony’, a dark acoustic bal­lad.

BE­FORE THE BRIDGE Ed­die Ber­man Net­twerk www.ed­dieber­man­mu­

Los An­ge­les singer-song­writer Ed­die Ber­man leans more to­wards folk than coun­try, his vo­cals bear­ing an un­canny re­sem­blance to those of Paul Si­mon. Be­fore The Bridge is Ber­man’s sec­ond al­bum, mostly recorded with a pared-back group of mu­si­cians and har­mony singers, al­though his highly pro­fi­cient fin­ger-pick­ing acoustic gui­tar style fea­tures through­out. There’s taste­ful per­cus­sion and a pi­ano tin­kling away in the back­ground on ‘Easy Rider’, one of the al­bum’s best. There’s a touch of vi­o­lin to ‘My Will Be Done’ which, along with tracks such as ‘Joann’ and ‘Run­ning’ highlight the al­bum’s quiet, laid-back na­ture. Other stand­outs in­clude ‘Un­tamed’ with its in­spi­ra­tional har­monies, the sim­plis­tic but ef­fec­tive ‘Spar­row’, and ‘I Will Not Be Around’ con­tain­ing Ber­man’s swirling gui­tar work.

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