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Doyle Bramhall II put his solo recording career into hibernation following the 2001 release of Welcome, choosing to concentrate on his thriving career as a sideman and producer. It was hard to blame him for deciding upon this route, not when Eric Clapton picked him as a lieutenant guitarist and Elton John, Sheryl Crow, and Derek Trucks all regularly came calling. Bramhall channels all this experience into Rich Man, his first album in 17 years and also his best. The key to the success of Rich Man is how he loads up the album with thick, funky rhythms, pushing soul over blues over the course of its 13 tracks. Which isn't to say that he either downplays his guitar prowess or opts out of adventure: he dabbles in Middle Eastern flair on "Saharan Crossing," while the nearly ten-minute "The Samanas" plays like a miniature rock opera. By closing the album with a slow, churning rendition of "Hear My Train a Comin'," he consciously reconnects with blues-rock, but early in the record he's riding mellower Southern soul grooves and concentrating on tight songwriting. And that's the trick of the album: it starts expansive and keeps expanding, taking in all the sounds and styles he's played over the last 17 years.