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Though it may be only for certain rock cognoscenti, the arrival of a new album from guitarist Richard Lloyd is always something of an event. The Countdown, Lloyd’s seventh studio LP, may seem modest in that regard, but don’t be fooled. Recording in Nashville with a top-flight rhythm section, the ex-Television personality keeps his presentation as unfancy as possible, generally eschewing overdubs, reverb and any other studio frippery, while still taking advantage of twenty-first century clarity. The stripped-down aesthetic suits these ten rock & roll songs, putting nothing between Lloyd’s guitar licks and his listeners’ ears. And make no mistake – while there’s nothing wrong with his solid lyrics and serviceable singing, it’s his six-string work that sells these tracks. That’s not to say this is a solo-happy record – the years Lloyd has spent doing session work have taught him the virtue of concision, and his days in TV sculpted his mastery of the art of the riff. The exciting energy of “Run” and “Down the Drain” contrasts nicely with the melodic pop of “Just My Heart” and “Smoke,” plus the acoustic guitar-driven wistfulness of “Something Remains.” Armed with his usual effects-free tone, what distortion there is provided solely by volume, Lloyd blazes away, getting in plenty of guitar magic without overindulgence.
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