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Pictures and Paintings

If country is cry-in-your-shotglass music, then Charlie Rich’s Pictures and Paintings, his first album in 12 years, is about hanging out in the bar after everyone has left. Actually, Rich’s comeback is barely country; anyone expecting retreads of ”The Most Beautiful Girl” should be prepared instead for a brooding, late-night album of light jazz and R&B. Backed by a small combo, Rich tickles the ivories and sings both originals and standards (”Am I Blue?”). Thanks to his piano chops and a husky voice heavy with pain, the experiment works. Rich proves that such disparate styles as country and lounge jazz have more in common than we may think. In ”Don’t Put No Headstone on My Grave,” one of his bluesy new songs, Rich sings, ”I don’t want the world to know/Here lies the man that loves you so.” If that’s not country, nothing is. A-

Pictures and Paintings
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