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Rehearsing His Choir

Howe Gelb's new album seems like a bad idea: One more middle-aging muso seeks inspiration, now joined by a (Canadian!) choir called the Voices of Praise. Eeeeeeeewww. But the old psych-country pioneer still mutters crisply over his guitars and keyboards. Lord willing, he'll always be more of a clue-chewer and a yarn-spinner than a preacher, riding increments and leaps of logic (and luck) to paydays and highways through deserts and cities again.

Most of Gelb's seven new songs hold their own with four primo re-rolls, including "Chore of Enchantment." They're all wired to three (key) covers of restless ballads by Rainer Ptacek, Gelb's late mentor and Giant Sand bandmate. The Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara drums, and the Voices sweep the horizon, reminding Southern me that hurricane season is almost here (following a couple of Heartland warm-ups). Inspiration can't come too soon!


Howe Gelb, with the Voices of Praise and Jeremy Gara, plays the Bowery Ballroom May 27.


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