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CD Review: James Moors' 'Hush'

Though James Moors lists Sting as one of his "top friends" on MySpace, we shouldn't hold that against him. Why? Because A) we're better than that and B) the Superior singer/songwriter's fourth album (though first without the Sterling Waters monik...

Though James Moors lists Sting as one of his "top friends" on MySpace, we shouldn't hold that against him.

Why? Because A) we're better than that and B) the Superior singer/songwriter's fourth album (though first without the Sterling Waters moniker), "Hush," is easily 2008's most promising disc yet.

Before we get to the songs -- which are gorgeous, as usual -- something must be said about the caliber of guest musicians Moors managed to secure for this disc.

It's simply amazing: Among others, "Hush" features help from Marc Perlman (the Jayhawks' bassist), Ed Ackerson (Polara frontman/ubiquitous Minneapolis music industry insider) and Lisa Germano, who has played violin on records by everyone from the Eels and David Bowie to John Mellencamp and Jewel.

An impeccable lineup, to be sure, but not as shocking a tactic as it once was.

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Apparently taking a cue from the how-could-they-possibly-cram-so-many-artists-onto-a-single-track approach of mainstream hip-hoppers, a number of polished, radio-ready singer/songwriters have started releasing projects with personnel lists with as many entries as there are tracks on the album.

The trick, though, is for the songs not to collapse under the collective genius of their players. Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson did it last year with "Free Life," his uber-collaborative (and equally infectious) solo debut, and now Moors is doing it too.

That said, there are many unforgettable tracks on "Hush." With lyrics like "I'm not the only one to see / That you're not the happy soul you used to be," it's hard not to take anything away from "Stretch."

Elsewhere on the record, the bouncy "Sunshine" is Moors' best bet for the No. 1 spot; "Magic Place" shines on with an overcast, late-period Jayhawks vibe and the title track, which made its first appearance on the Pearl Swanson benefit album "Treasure Chest," gently winds down the album.

From beginning to end, "Hush" is a beautiful tapestry of gracious, Storyhill-worthy melodies and straight-shot-to-the-soul lyrics; proving, once again, that Moors is one of the nation's most underrated songwriters.

For more information, look for Moors on the Web at www.jamesmoors.com .

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