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DUANE JARVIS (Buy CDs by this artist)
D.J.'s Front Porch (Medium Cool / Twin/Tone) 1994
Far From Perfect (Watermelon) 1998
Certified Miracle (Slewfoot) 2001

Portland, Oregon singer/guitarist Duane Jarvis walked a long mile through all sorts of musical affiliations (serving with Marvin Etzioni, Divinyls, Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, John Prine and others) before settling down on his Front Porch — actually, a Venice, California recording studio — with a stack of affecting, low-key originals burnished by a sincere roustabout's voice of experience and a few pointed references to drinking. The Kinks' "This Is Where I Belong" makes as good a theme song as any for his roots-and-beyond solo debut, on which D.J. is backed simply by his brother Kevin on drums and bassist Bobby McDonald, with pianist Rick Solem and viola/violin contributions from Tammy Rogers. The trio modulates its attack from nearly nothing (the jazzy brush strokes and jazz fiddle of "I Can Hardly Wait") to nearly raucous (the cold feet of "Good on Paper"). In the vintage-toned middle ground, "She's Like a Drink" and "Darlinghurst Road" take equal parts Stonesy raunch and the kind of R&B and rockabilly rock that once resounded in Sun's tiny Memphis studio room. Throughout, Duane and the boys move things along with generous helpings of swamp spirit and the kind of skilled playing that neither ducks out nor calls attention to itself.

[Ira Robbins]