Artist: A.J. Croce
Album: That's Me In The Bar
Label: Compass Records
Release Date: 08/21/2015
In a prescient move, Compass Records has re-mastered A.J. Croce’s sophomore recording That’s Me In The Bar, twenty years after the album reached the Top 10 on the U.S. Blues chart. But of course, this was always so much more than a blues album, and perhaps because of Croce’s eclecticism, it has remained somewhat under the radar, as indeed have many of the consistently good albums that followed this one.
Twenty years after the fact, the list of cohorts that appear on That’s Me In The Bar seems all the more remarkable. Anchoring the project is producer Jim Keltner, a man that Bob Dylan once called “the leading session drummer in America.” Also in attendance are multi-instrumentalist David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Little Feat pianist Bill Payne and the great Ry Cooder. It is a testament to the power of not only Croce’s voice but his authority as a musician that with a cast of characters like that in tow, his thick New Orleans-style chops on the piano and his originality as a song writer are indisputably in charge.
Croce’s latest album, Twelve Tales, is his first for Compass and arguably his most ambitious to date. On it he taps six different legendary producers, each of whom collaborate on two tracks. As impressive an endeavor as that project was, re-listening to Croce’s second recording twenty years later, it’s striking to hear the foundations of his current project already nascent in that early sound.