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Crooked Fingers 

Sunday, March 13; Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Boulevard

The comparison is unavoidable. Crooked Fingers frontman Eric Bachmann sounds an awful lot like Neil Diamond when he sings. This is not a bad thing. Listening to, say, The Jazz Singer is one of the guiltiest pleasures in pop music. Now, imagine that voice at three in the morning, his throat scratched by cigarettes, whiskey on his breath, telling us what no one, not even the chair, wants to hear.

Thankfully, Bachmann is far more articulate than the Neil of "I Am, I Said." (Crooked Fingers does, however, perform a brilliant cover of "Solitary Man.") His songs are always confessions, sometimes tender, often brutal -- stories you save until last call because you can't imagine telling them sober. Bachmann sets his stories to spare but warm music: Acoustic and slide guitars, a piano and steady percussion dominate the intricate arrangements.

Crooked Fingers' latest album, Dignity and Shame, adds a Spanish flavor to the mix: a fluttering trumpet here, the distinctive jangle of flamenco guitar there. It is the band's most varied collection to date, from the rollicking sing-along "Valerie" to the meditative title track to the Elvis Costello-esque confrontation "Call to Love." And not an "I Am, I Said" or "Today" in the bunch.

Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 314-534-1111 for more information.

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