Casper Rawls, “Brave World.” Renowned for his long tenures with the LeRoi Brothers and Toni Price as well as his more recent Sunday afternoon “Planet Casper” residency at the Continental Club, guitarist Rick “Casper” Rawls somehow had never released a solo album until now. It’s easily one of the year’s best local records, with Rawls backed by a prime local cast including David Grissom, Glenn Fukunaga, Floyd Domino, Warren Hood and Dony Wynn. Rawls’ sharp instinct for material that suits his style draws him toward terrific takes of songs by George Harrison (the opening “Any Road”), Walter Hyatt (“Houston Town”) and J.J. Cale (“Thirteen Days”). But it’s the originals that take center stage. “Angeline” rivals the best classic pop in Buddy Holly’s book, “I’m Living It” sets honky-tonk twang to a brilliant lyric (“If you need more proof than that, I’m living it”), and the joint gets rocking on the clever Suzy Elkins co-write “Don’t They Know (Who We Think We Are).” The capper is an album-closing cut about Rawls’ guitar-slinging heroes called “The Day That Don Rich Died,” for which the chaser is a wonderfully humorous, previously unreleased tune by Rawls’ late friend Buck Owens called “A Little Bitty Piece of DNA,” with Owens on lead vocals. Tied together by the sure-handed production of R.S. Field, “Brave World” is a lifelong pursuit that panned out perfectly. Playing at 3:30 p.m. May 3 (and most Sundays) at the Continental Club.
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