'Knife' Should Be Cut Down

Audio purists choose vinyl records over compact discs because of their warmth and depth of tone. But an even more compelling argument in favor of vinyl is the old format's forced brevity: Where grooved vinyl held only about 20 minutes of music per side at most, digitized discs can cram almost 75 minutes. The result? Artists with too much time and too little to say making albums stocked with filler. On Kevn Kinney's third disc, The Flower and the Knife, the former Drivin' N' Cryin' frontman serves up a solid set of nine songs. Unfortunately, the disc features 13 tracks. Throw out the pair of predictable Dylan covers, the new take on his old band's anthem "Straight to Hell" (RealAudio excerpt) and — worst of all — the phony Beatnik jive of "Kerouac" (RealAudio excerpt), and Kinney has made a fine rustic folk record. Producer Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule) adds distinctive slide guitar to several tracks, and Kinney shines, especially on "Trail of Seasons" (RealAudio excerpt), as a casually emotive vocalist and keen chronicler of everyday struggles.