Empty Roads, the new CD released by Pennsylvania singer/gutarist Dan Bubien, reminds me of those classic ’70s rock albums by artists like Little Feat, a swampy mix of blues, rock n’ roll, and funk with a heaping helping of classic soul thrown in for good measure. Bubien is a wonderfully soulful singer and his versatile guitar work is equally effective. In addition, he’s a talented songwriter, writing or co-writing (with Roman Marocco or Jonathan Vallecorsa) all 11 tracks.

It’s hard to pick a standout track because they are all so good. Songs like the title track, “Fight Club,” “To Youngstown,” “Exile Blues,” and “Love Games” all have that Southern blues/rock feel to them with traces of the Louisiana swamp sound permeating. Other tracks, such as the gorgeous “Keep Love In Mind,” the Motown-styled “Irony” and “Crazy Days” (which both recall Smokey Robinson’s Miracles days), and “Brother” offer Bubien a chance to shine on vocals. The track “Dizzy Eyes” mixes R&B with Latin rhythms with pleasing results and the closing track, “Sniper,” has a strong country feel, one of several tracks on which Bubien plays Dobro.

Produced by Grammy winner Jay Dudt, Empty Roads is a excellent sampler of American music, blending the blues with soul, R&B, funk, country, and roots music, and should appeal to music lovers of all genres. It’s one of those records that you used to slip onto the turntable back in the day when you wanted to unwind after a rough day and just take in some great music.

— Graham Clarke

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