Espresso Logic (eastwest import)

Chris Rea

By Allen Howie

It's hard to understand what keeps Chris Rea, a star in his native Ireland and throughout Europe, from getting heard here in the U.S. He has a great, bluesy voice that seems equally at home with a quiet ballad or full-bore rock. He writes wonderful songs overflowing with wit and melody. He plays guitar with Mark Knopfler's precision, Eric Clapton's passion and Neil Young's energy. On top of that, everyone I know who's ever heard his records has become a lifelong fan.

Rea's latest, Espresso Logic, again brings all these gifts to the fore, with sterling results. There's the big beat of the title track; the Celtic elegance of "Red;" the biting blues of "Soup of the Day;" the moody urgency of "Johnny Needs a Fast Car;" the haggard, haunting "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea;" the unstoppable rhythms and easy melody of "Julia;" the bittersweet serenity of "Summer Love;" the breezy pop of "New Way;" the soulful piano blues of "Stop;" and the rumbling narration of the dreamy "She Closed Her Eyes." Ten perfect songs, perfectly executed - a music lover's paradise.