Junior Brown

Junior Brown, the only guitarist I’ve heard whose sound betrays equal affection for Ernest Tubb and Jimi Hendrix, continues to be the most wildly experimental musician currently playing good old-fashioned country music. On Mixed Bag, his sixth album, Brown hits all the usual stops, from such guitar showcase tunes as “Guitar Man” and “Catfish and Collard Greens,” to a blues number, “Kansas City Blues”—even throwing in a little ragtime, “Riverboat Shuffle,” for good measure. The album is weighted down some by the overly simplistic politics of “Grow Up America.” But the clever lyrics of “Cagey Bea,” a Russian gypsy spy send-up, and “Ain’t Gonna Work Today” redeem Brown as a lyricist. He is still at his best when showin’ off his chops on guit-steel—a guitar/lap-steel hybrid of his own design—like he does on the Chet Atkins style instrumental, “The Chase.”