An early warning that Paul Burch was recording his new album at the studios of his celebrity pen pal Mark Knopfler left me with a chill of impending disaster. Even though a Bloodshot publicist assured me that Knopfler would only be playing guitar on one track, it did little to assuage my fear that the laid-back ambience of the room might seep into Burch's recording and negate any soulfulness on contact. Thankfully, East To West sounds nothing like a snoozy-smooth Knopfler product. The surprisingly swingin' session has an enjoyable first-take roughness, probably because there was rarely a need for a second pass. Credit Burch's superbly crafted tunes and an exceptionally talented support crew, which, besides his WPA Ballclub, includes Ralph Stanley, Tim O'Brien, Richard Bennett, Fats Kaplin and others. The homage to late, great BBC personality John Peel is one of the finest tributes you're likely to hear.