James Finch Jr.

Cornbread & Bourbon

Vocally, local singer-songwriter James Finch Jr. resembles that point where Forever Goldrush singer Damon Wyckoff, Tom Waits and maybe Trout Mask Replica-era Captain Beefheart come together. Finch’s finger-style guitar playing, on 6- and 12-string just like Leo Kottke, recalls Kottke mentor John Fahey. When there’s a backup band, it plays with all the warm fire and mutant gypsy élan of Rod Stewart’s band circa Every Picture Tells a Story, with lustrous and careening fiddle, mandolin and resonator guitar. But the artist that Finch’s tales of whiskey-fueled sin and redemption bring to mind most forcefully is Johnny Cash. These 12 original tracks make up what’s, for the most part, a superb record. (The shrill electric-guitar tone on “Vision on the Hill” might work somewhere else, but it’s out of place here.) This is a delicious Americana disc that marks the debut of a really fine artist. Hear, hear.