Singer/songwriter Jeff Black offers a Dualtone set here that at the very least lives up to the latter part of its title, with vivid spiritual/metaphysical imagery, passionate vocals, and big-picture t

Singer/songwriter Jeff Black offers a Dualtone set here that at the very least lives up to the latter part of its title, with vivid spiritual/metaphysical imagery, passionate vocals, and big-picture themes. Black conjures a Randy Newman vibe on stark piano ballads like the inspirational "Slip" and recalls a youthful Springsteen on the biting "Bastard." The softly percolating "To Be With You" is naked in its romanticism, while the understated "Cakewalk" finds its hope and beauty in subtle nuance and life experience. A thinking-man's balladeer with farflung perspective, Black's "Same Old River" is all point of view, while "Holy Roller" is fiercely observational funk, and the stoic fatalism of "Sunday Best" and newfound optimism of "Higher Ground" are nothing short of brilliant. Top to bottom, this stuff is special. Black is an artist of substance.—RW