Jim Wurster is a musician of serious intent. And his earliest efforts with Black Janet bolstered the perception. Still, Wurster really came into his own when he went solo and subsequently formed the Atomic Cowboys, making a 180-degree turn and crossing over into country with nods to Johnny Cash, John Prine, and Hank Williams.
Straight to Me, his latest album, confirms that twangy intensity. It's reflected even in the cover photo, depicting a grim-faced Wurster wearing an expression of dour disapproval. Finding such authentic Americana in these environs is rare, given that our South Florida soundscape rarely offers opportunities for harmonies and heartache, much less banjos, mandolins, or pedal steel guitars.
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With producer Jack Shawde shaping its down-home sound, the album exudes a world-weary perspective — one that's occasionally dire and downtrodden, but mostly inspired and optimistic. Wurster's rich crooning often brings to mind Roy Orbison, especially on the title track, while his star-crossed duets with Daphna Rose and Diane Ward on "It's Just a Start" and "So Lucky" recall the best of Johnny and June.
Jim Wurster and the Atomic Cowboys
With Sam Halstead, Daphna Rose, and Omine. 8 p.m. Friday, April 15, at Luna Star Caf, 775 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-799-7123; lunastarcafe.com.
Fueled by Wurster's head-down determination, his roughshod songs are both beautiful and beguiling. Lee Zimmerman