While the Strat-brandishing virtuoso is something of a cliche in rock music, those who can wield a Fender with precision do possess the ability to grab our attention. Having paid his dues touring with '90s hip-hop act First Born in addition to logging fret time alongside Memphis soul crooner William Bell, Elliot Holden demonstrates the nimble-fingered dexterity to do just that. It's no wonder he's earned opening slots for Derek Trucks and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band while prompting comparisons to enshrined six-string heroes such as Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck. But stretched analogies aside, Holden brings his own fresh talent to the game. On his latest platter, Radiance, he moves agilely through jazz-inspired arrangements to funk-and blues-tinged fare and beyond. He even shines up a shimmering acoustic gem (the title track) and presents a pair of tunes, "Ghetto" and "Loradeath," that feature vocals punctuated, naturally, by lush guitar work. Mix in bassist Keith Jenkins and drummer Erik Hargrove from James Brown's band, and you've got an ensemble capable of moving the groove around while not losing sight of the one.
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