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Sounding like the roots-bound offspring of Jackson Browne and Rickie Lee Jones, Clarence Bucaro offers some promising singing and songwriting on his debut disc. A native of Northeastern Ohio, Bucaro has a warm voice that ranges effortlessly over singsongy blues and folk territory, supported by a supple band that can tilt with equal ease toward jazz, African rhythms, or old-timey rags. Bucaro comes off as a friendly young boho, offering social commentaries and romantic tales without much concern for enunciating his lyrics or finding exact rhymes. Nonetheless, itís easy to make out some strong, if uneven, poetry in tunes like "Streets of Juarez," a shadowy portrait of danger on the frontier that is one of Bucaroís best, and darkest, songs. But Sweet Corn, produced by New Orleans bluesman Anders Osborne, is mostly a stroll along the creek, with drummer Geoff Sullivan riding the cymbals like a jazzman on "Gardens of Love," fiddler Pete Martin delivering several brilliant passages, and folkie Eliza Gilkyson adding a subtle vocal counter to Bucaro on one track, "Sweet Laurel."
BY BILL KISLIUK