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Cephas & Wiggins
SOMEBODY TOLD THE TRUTH
(ALLIGATOR)

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The acclaimed acoustic blues team of John Cephas and Phil Wiggins have made a slew of albums over two decades. Although their third effort for Alligator isnít among their best work, it has its moments. Cephas has a gift for getting to the heart of a lyric, his measured deep tones being more comfortable than an old sweater, and he excels on the traditional fare he encountered a half-century ago as a young man in rural Virginia. "Stack and the Devil," "Railroad Bill," and "Darling Cora" all find him fondly recounting tales of rascally behavior. His guitar playing, engaging and lacy like thread in a weblike design, complements his singing.

Wigginsís harmonica usually kindles the proceedings with a moderate fire; yet the tin instrument can produce a certain monotony of sound, and here it drags down the jointly composed title track, for starters. And Wiggins has never been much of a vocalist: he sounds typically uninspired on his so-so tune "Forgiveness." The studio material is joined by an old concert track, the torch song "Darkness on the Delta," where Cephas the warm-hearted singer receives support from the estimable jazz-guitarist Tal Farlow and a rhythm section.

BY FRANK-JOHN HADLEY

Issue Date: December 5 - 12, 2002
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