Florida-born Selwyn Birchwood won it all at the IBCs in 2013 and was signed by Alligator soon afterwards. His first disc, Don’t Call No Ambulance, was very well received, winning several awards. This new album takes him several stages further, with a songwriting variety and musical inventiveness that’s obvious from the getgo. Birchwood plays guitar and lap steel with Regi Oliver on saxes, Huff Wright on bass & Courtney “Big Love” Girlie on drums and they have no need for guest stars. Somewhat unusually, the program opens quietly, with Hill Country fife & drums a là Otha Turner before Oliver switches to flute on “Trial By Fire”, a song that goes on to pay tribute to R.L. Burnside. Oliver picks up his more usual tenor sax for “Even The Saved Need Saving”, a gospelbased song that is a free download at www.alligator.com. On an album full of good songs, I think most every listener will identify with “Guilty Pleasures”, with its ‘I know it’s not good but a little bit won’t hurt’ lyrics. “Pick Your Poison” continues that theme but with an amazing funky arrangement featuring Birchwood’s wah-wah pedal and multi-tracked saxophone parts. Especially good is “Reaping Time”, with Birchwood on acoustic guitars, one them a slide, in a tale of murder based on the adage that you must reap what you sow. The solo “Police State”, with Birchwood on National steel shows he’s been paying attention to the news as well. “My Whiskey Loves My Ex” may be the only song about texting while drunk. There are nods to almost every contemporary style of music here but it is all firmly rooted in the blues. If you get this in time, you can catch him live at the Tralf Music Hall in Buffalo on June 4th, otherwise check out his busy schedule at www.selwynbirchwood.com.