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Corey Stevens, Bring on the Blues (Varese)
It doesn't happen often, but sometimes aping one's musical heroes is enough to sustain a career. For years, L.A.-by-way-of-Illinois blues rock guitarist Corey Stevens has come as close to anyone (see also Shepherd, Kenny Wayne or Lang, Jonny) to evoking the spirit and sound of the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan. Of course, no one guitarist can fill the void left by Vaughan's 1990 death, but Stevens certainly tries his best on his latest Bring on the Blues. Stevens is the definition of dependable blues rock, mixing slow-brewed jams like "My Blues Are Turning Red" (think SRV's "Texas Flood") with funkier numbers such as "You're So Evil" and "Lonesome Road Blues"; there's no crazy experimentation to be found here. While Stevens is occasionally guilty of play it too straight -- "My Love For You Has Died" lacks the urgency and anguish (and hell, even the ennui) its title would suggest -- there's nothing on Bring on the Blues that wouldn't appear to SRV's fanbase. If you're not hung up on Vaughan the way Stevens is, fear not. The smoky L.A.-blues of "Hang On" and "Real Love" call to mind the grown-up rock of Back from Rio-era Roger McGuinn. And the jaunty "Getaway", performed with some help from Canned Heat, tosses in an organ and harmonica, which proves that Stevens can succeed outside of SRV's framework. Nevertheless, most folks will tune in for the blues, and Bring on the Blues is a fine effort from a top-notch keeper of Stevie Ray Vaughan's flame.