TROY, MATTACKS, & BROWN
Live at Captain Carlo's
(Self-released)

JOHN TROY
Just When I Thought I Was Done
(Self-released)

A seasoned session player and former member of New England's 70s funk-folk combo The Pousette-Dart Band, John Troy finally re-emerges with a double dose of new music. Fashioned around the nucleus of his new trio (which also features singer/guitarist David Brown and veteran drummer extraordinaire Dave Mattacks) the two albums -- one live, one studio -- provide tear-stained ballads, soulful R&B and breezy, harmony-soaked sambas imbued with a tropical sway.

Live at Captain Carlo's is a showcase for the trio's prodigious talents, both individually and as part of a tightly knit ensemble. Each musician has space to shine, but it's the instrumental interplay on songs such as "Down Home Girl" and "David's Cha Cha" that's especially impressive. Mattacks, well known for his work with a veritable who's who of contemporary artists (his résumé lists Paul McCartney, Richard Thompson, Fairport Convention, among many others), provides the tasteful underpinning, not to mention a snare and cymbal exchange (on "Goodnight Irene") that may be the most subdued solo ever recorded. Still, with only three players in the mix, there's room for embellishment, and their supple takes on Ry Cooder's rootsy "Boomer's Story," Johnny Cash's rockabilly rouser "Get Rhythm" and Otis Reddings's yearning "Dreams To Remember" bear that out in fine form.

Even so, the album's highlight comes in the form of an original, Troy's "When You Turned Out The Light," a heartbreaking tale of two lovers taking a final fling. The song is reprised on Just When I Thought I Was Done, his first solo album proper and an eclectic effort that further reveals his musical dexterity. His hipster jive on "Nickel & Dime," the fiddle-fueled country ramble "Arizona" and the island caress of "Find Someone" somehow find common ground along side the sweet, sad "Ralphie," "Never Told Her" and "The Road I'm On." However, the most telling tune is the title track, an eloquent expression of what it's like to be a journeyman musician for whom fame and fortune remain as elusive as ever.

Considering what each of these albums has to offer, Troy may yet find those rewards are within his reach.

--Lee Zimmerman


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