Acquired Taste

Acquired Taste

Not much in life has proved more reliable than Delbert McClinton . Like slipping into your favorite old T-shirt, you know what to expect with a new album of his, even if both the shirt and McClinton’s roadhouse-weary voice have started to fray a bit around the edges. The Lubbock-born singer cut his teeth backing the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin’ Wolf, and though he dabbles in everything from pop to country to jazz, the blues have never left him far behind; an indelible R&B vibe brands his work. Acquired Taste (New West), McClinton’s first studio recording in four years, is completely predictable and frequently enjoyable. Though produced by Don Was, the album shows no high-dollar polish. It has more of a one-take feel: The mix goes askew at times, and some vocals really should have been done over. Worse, the sequence of songs seems to have been determined by drawing the titles out of a hat. Still, McClinton can transform ordinary material—“Mama’s Little Baby,” “Cherry Street,” “Do It,” “People Just Love to Talk”—into something magical. Few singers have ever been so sure of their way.

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