Draw Breath

Draw Breath

It’s remarkable how Los Angeles-based guitarist Nels Cline can play so many styles with such technical mastery and feeling. When he rocks out — as he does as lead guitar slinger for Wilco — he shreds magnificently, but Cline can also make a Jim Hall fan smile with one of his jazz ballads. And he’s capable of letting loose a squall that would please a Keiji Heino devotee. The Nels Cline Singers — an instrumental trio consisting of Cline, drummer Scott Amendola and acoustic bassist Devin Hoff — display a range of musical interests, and the various threads are nicely tied together by Cline’s distinctive, exploratory playing. “Caved-In Heart Blues,” a suggestive slice of Americana, hints at Native American music and the blues. “Attempted” is high-wire jazz-rock that burns with the fire of early John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell but takes things further out. “Recognize I” and “Recognize II” showcase the group’s quiet side, not to mention Cline’s lovely acoustic guitar. The album wraps up with “Squirrel of God,” a rousing finale that finds Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche guesting on percussion. Appropriately enough, it’s hard to classify this perfect closer.

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