W.W. Lowman steps out front

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Since moving to Chicago in 1998, guitarist W.W. “Bill” Lowman has made a name for himself as a session man, appearing on loads of records by the likes of the Aluminum Group, L’Altra, and Edith Frost. He's also one half of Bosco & Jorge, a kind of experimental fingerstyle guitar duo with Brad Gallagher. Their last album, Ally in the Sky (Sixgunlover, 2003), featured contributions from many of the Chicagoans Lowman has sat in with over the years, including cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, cornetist Rob Mazurek, and Frank and John Navin of the Aluminum Group.

Today is the official release date of Lowman’s solo debut, Plain Songs (Arbouse), an arty pop album crafted with the help of Frank Navin. Lowman cites Ennio Morricone and Burt Bacharach as his key inspirations, but if the new record proves anything, it's that he’s a much better soloist than songwriter. The fussy arrangements, convoluted song structures, and mostly wordless vocals from Navin and L’Altra singer Lindsay Anderson all saunter by without making much of an impression. The record feels like little more than an exercise.

Bosco & Jorge perform infrequently these days, but they have a gig lined up Wednesday night at Ronny’s. Then on Friday, Lowman will celebrate the release of Plain Songs at Morseland, where he’ll be joined by Anderson, Navin, Jay Marino (Buddy Nuisance), and Cory Haely.

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