Joseph Arthur does the near-impossible on "Lou" (Vanguard). He brilliantly summarizes the career of his friend, the late Lou Reed, not by using the usual music industry criteria, but emotional ones. With only acoustic guitars and piano to support him, Arthur captures Reed's grit and innocence, his unflinching storytelling and earnest dreaming throughout his career in classics like "Walk on the Wild Side" and "Heroin" and lesser-known gems like "Magic and Loss" and "Coney Island Baby." The stripped-back arrangements let Reed's lyrics speak for themselves. But Arthur's voice, especially when he creates a chorus of his own harmonies, serves as a knowing guide in this celebration of the Freeport native.
THE GRADE A
BOTTOM LINE A gorgeous tribute to Lou Reed's spirit and career.