Singer/songwriter/guitarist Rob Lutes has numerous nominations at the MBAs: several times for Acoustic Act of the year and as male vocalist of the year and as songwriter of the year. In 2015, he was a runner up in the Cobalt Prize Blues Songwriting Award. With eight albums under his own name, he has also teamed up with Michael Emaneau, a composer, producer and vibraphonist who was also a childhood friend growing up in New Brunswick. The Ocean Wide is their second album together and despite the fact that both live in Montreal, it is filled with loving references to their home province. They have two collaborators this time out, Ivanhoe Jolicoeur on trumpet and Bruno Lamarche on clarinet & saxophone. The opening “Everything I Wanted (Is Here)” beginning with his partner, a most beautiful love song. Lutes has always been a most accomplished lyric writer and he most certainly has not lost his touch. Subtle trumpet/sax build to a nice climax. The title song has Lutes doubling on banjo as he beautifully equates love to the ocean wide – the trumpet/sax add an almost mariachi touch to another highlight. Steve Goodman’s “Looking for Trouble” is yet a third highlight with brief solos from the trumpet & sax. Emaneau switches to what sounds like an accordion and Lutes picks up his slide for the first of three instrumentals, “Train #47”. “Renous Highway” may be Lutes’s best work here as a lyricist as he describes a solo drive on this desolate New Brunswick highway. For many of the remaining songs, Lamarche switches to clarinet and, perhaps not coincidentally, these become of less blues interest. Nothing happens to Lutes’s lyrics though, and many of you might well disagree with my opinion. They use Rob Lutes’ web site, www.roblutes.com, it shows dates in Quebec for now.

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