Stephen Clair | Strange Perfume
(Rock City Records)
Well known in the southern reaches of the Mid-Hudson Valley as a founder the vibrant music school Beacon Music Academy, songwriter and guitar slinger Stephen Clair, with some help from his talented friends, delivers a galvanizing set of self-described "garage Americana" with his sixth release. The title cut and "I've Got No Trouble" boast incisive, anthemic hooks to prick up any power pop lover's ears. Things get a lot grittier on the distorted blues of "Digging my Ditch," which has plenty of guitar crunch, along with some wonderfully skronky baritone saxophone courtesy of Brad Hubbard. The musical spaces in the spare, love-over-adversity ballad "If We Last Long Enough," showcase the emotional complexity of the lyric. The crack band is rounded out by Daria Grace (bass/backing vocals), Nate Allan (bass), and Aaron Latos (drums/backing vocals). Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris producer Malcolm Burn is at the controls.