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Boz Scaggs - Dig (2001)
EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 347 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 128 Mb | Scans ~ 163 Mb
Label: Virgin | # 7243 8 10635 2 1, CDVUS 206 | Time: 00:55:53
Pop/Rock, Soft Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul, Rhythm & Blues

He didn't go so far as to call it Silk Degrees II, but Dig is as close as Boz Scaggs is likely to come to recording the sequel to his most commercially successful and, for many, best-loved record (unless you count 1977's underrated follow-up, Down Two Then Left). Reunited after all these years with Silk Degrees collaborator David Paich, Scaggs makes a successful return to the blue-eyed soul of his late-'70s works on tracks such as "Desire" and "Thanks to You," the latter featuring tastefully muted trumpet work from Roy Hargrove. Elsewhere, a tuneful "Call That Love" bounces along over a "Lowrider"-style groove, while "Get on the Natch" and "You're Not" are apparent attempts by Scaggs and Danny Kortchmar (who coproduced with Paich) to fuse blues and hip-hop. There's even something for fans of Paich's old band, Toto, whose pristine pop stylings circa "Africa" are echoed on "Vanishing Point," arguably one of this album's best cuts. True, nothing here may be quite as poppy as "Georgia" or as pretty as "Harbor Lights," but Scaggs deserves credit for trying to evoke the spirit of Silk Degrees without merely pandering to his past.

Boz Scaggs returns to the arena in the thoroughly modern Dig, four years after his much-acclaimed return to traditional R&B on Come on Home. This takes no small bit of courage for an artist like Scaggs, who has reveled in obscurity for most of the '80s and '90s. Come on Home won the man all sorts of critical platitudes for making unfashionable roots music in a highly unlikely time. It showed, of course, in that the record sold barely respectably. Dig is, if anything, a hyper-modern take on R&B. Scaggs and co-producers David Paich (who co-wrote virtually all the material here) and guitarist Danny Kortchmar have embraced modern production, recording, and mixing techniques in the same way Scaggs did on Silk Degrees (whose part two this is definitely not). The result is simply a very fine adult contemporary take on rhythm & blues that showcases Scaggs in the finest voice he's given us in decades, a solid batch of tunes, and very few irritating elements. Scaggs' use of hip-hop methodologies in tracks like "Desire," with Michael Rodriguez's programming, is subtle enough to add atmosphere to an already beautiful song. The tune is a ballad so smooth and streetwise, so late-night in feel and sentiment, the timberline drum program just underlines the spooky guitars and Scaggs' sweet crooning; in fact, his voice here sounds better than it ever has. There are other modernisms that Scaggs employs here that would have been better left on the cutting room floor, such as his insistence on rapping on "Just Go," where he sounds like a Wal-Mart cross between Frank Zappa on "Dina Moe Hum" and Tom Waits from Bone Machine. But there are only a couple of moments like that; his blues roots manifest themselves well on "King of El Paso" and his embrace of Latin-tinged pop suits him well on "Call That Love." While it's a slick record in typical Scaggs fashion, it's a slim cast of characters who pull it all off - mainly Scaggs, Paich, and Kortchmar (who is as fine a guitarist as ever), with guests like Ray Parker, Jr., pedal steel god Steve Lukather, and jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove Jr. lending their hands in various spots. For a guy everybody said was in the hallmark of memory, Boz Scaggs is making remarkably refreshing and compelling music. Dig is mature enough to resonate well with his aging audience, and it's slick and polished enough to catch the ear of pop radio programmers. With precious few rough spots, Dig is a pop triumph by a sleight-of-sound master.
           
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Tracklist:

01. Payday (4:44)
02. Sarah (4:45)
03. Miss Riddle (6:27)
04. I Just Go (4:50)
05. Get On The Natch (4:50)
06. Desire (5:32)
07. Call That Love (4:19)
08. King Of El Paso (5:16)
09. You're Not (4:19)
10. Vanishing Point (4:48)
11. Thanks To You (6:01)

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