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Peaceful, Easy Keaton

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With its soul-guitar filigree, country-rock leanings and Jellyfish-style bridges, Keaton Simons’ 2008 release Can You Hear Me is a triumph of California pop by an L.A. native who has mastered a style of sinuous, intelligent formalism. Simons has been kicking around the industry for nearly a decade and has seen major-label deals come and go, but his latest is both energized and easygoing—L.A. studio-craft at its most dynamic. His soul-inflected and slightly mush-mouthed vocals work beautifully on the title track, which suggests Nilsson covering Allen Toussaint, while “Currently” swings a New Orleans groove. “Burch Mog” is a post-Hendrix rocking soul ballad, complete with Keaton’s patented cool licks. Can You Hear Me might seem a touch lightweight in spots, but the nervous, impressionist acoustic guitar part that powers “Unstoppable” is pretty deep.
Sun., March 8, 8 p.m., 2009

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