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Blue Merle
BURNING IN THE SUN
(Island)

Luke Reynolds isnít the long-lost identical twin of Coldplayís Chris Martin, but you might find yourself thinking so when he opens his mouth to sing. The Coldplay connection doesnít end with the frontmanís falsetto, either. For their debut album, these Nashvillers deal in mellow rockers and yearning ballads of the same sort that Martinís band have trademarked, with an extra hot-licks element that brings Dave Matthews to mind. A front line of acoustic guitar, mandolin and fiddle ó each handled with gusto ó grabs the attention, but unusual (for a pop group) instrumentation canít camouflage the generic, if melodically appealing, bent of the songs. What lifts them to the next level is the restless effervescence of the ensemble. On the opening, title track, drummer William Ellis gooses the groove just right, giving the whole performance a distinctive spring. That kind of enthusiasm is easy to fall for, and Blue Merle offer it up in abundance.

(Blue Merle open for former Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips this Tuesday, April 5, downstairs at the Middle East, 480 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square: call 617-864-EAST.)

BY MAC RANDALL


Issue Date: April 1 - 7, 2005
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