With his characteristically raspy, soulful voice, nipped by anguished yelps that flit past like sniper's bullets, Cliff Eberhardt can conjure mournfulness as exquisitely haunting as an autumn wind whipping across the prairie. Add his weepy slide guitar, as he does on his superb cover of the folk classic "500 Miles" (which is the title track on his new Red House album), and you get a timeless sound redolent with wistful blues and heartache that's intimately personal yet as expansive as the Great Plains. A similar feeling pervades 500 Miles: The Blue Rock Sessions. Eberhardt stirs up billowing clouds of emotion via his gutsy vocals, while most of the songs have sparse, but nonetheless vivid, arrangements that evoke some dusty, out-of-the-way southwest cantina. In large part that's thanks to the first-rate Texas session players who etched the sound, including accordionist Joel Guzman, who coaxes Eberhardt into clipped vocals that suggest Joe Ely on a cover of John Hiatt's "Back of My Mind." Eberhardt's originals, meanwhile, are mostly hard assessments of "The Long Road" he's traveled the past couple of decades, including a new version of that 20-year-old song, now marbled with experience.
Sun., Nov. 29, 7 p.m., 2009
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