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Published: 2002/06/28
by Chris Gardner

Forever Blue – Chuck Leavell

Evergreen Records 002

Chuck Leavell is in the air.

He lives the session player's dream. His keys dance across radio waves
throughout the country, but his name seldom drops. It may be the "Jessica"
solo that thousands of people know note for note, or it may be his work with
the Stones, Black Crowes, Gov't Mule, or Clapton. He takes his pick of the
offers from rock n' roll royalty. Not a bad gig.

Forever Blue, which may well be the the first disc ever dedicated to
the trees that make the instruments that shape the sound (see last month's
issue for an excellent discussion of Chuck's conservationist efforts), finds
the sideman front, center and all alone. From the slow blues of the
title track to the gospel renderings of "Higher Ground", Leavell sounds
relaxed, absorbed, and fully in the moment. You can almost hear him
smiling. Leavell never falls back on flash, fleshing out each tune while
always staying within it. The album inspires repose, pushing you back onto
the couch and telling you a story you already know and love.

These songs
are highly visual, stringing images together in slow montages. It is
reflective rather than progressive, showcasing a man clearly in love with
and comfortable with his music, his instrument, and the trees that gave it
to him.

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