Despite his reputation as a musical polyglot on New York City’s artsy downtown music scene, the young Elliott Sharp was as smitten with the blues as any other guitarist of his generation, and he arrived at the hard stuff by way of the Yardbirds and the Stones. On Terraplane’s debut album in 1994, Sharp paid homage to influences such as Muddy and Elmore, but Sharp’s blues are as deeply rooted in the Hudson and East rivers as the Mississippi Delta or urban Chicago, and his compositions posses the edginess, grit, swing, and swagger characteristic of a New York state of mind. On Terraplane’s latest release, that swagger is driven by drummer Lance Carter and bassist David Hofstra—punctuated with blasts from trombonist Curtis Fowlkes and baritone saxophonist Alex Harding (along with Sharp’s own tenor sax)—and the compositions provide the perfect foil for Sharp’s innovative and impassioned resonator and electric slide work. Hip contributions from lyricist/vocalists Eric Mingus and Tracie Morris, and soulful licks courtesy of legendary bluesman Hubert Sumlin help make Secret Life the band’s most consistently compelling work to date. (Intuition). —Barry Cleveland
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