Cost of Living continues the astonishing run of Delbert McClinton recordings that have come along since the mid-'90s. While some would argue that McClinton has always been consistent, Cost of Living ranks up there with Keeper of the Flame, Plain from the Heart, and Jealous Kind. This set contains 13 tunes, the majority of which McClinton either wrote or co-wrote with old mates including Gary Nicholson, Glen Clark, and Al Anderson. The sounds here are tough, gritty Texas rhythm & blues, hard honky tonk blues, slippery acoustic country, and killer funky white boy Southern soul. While there isn't a weak tune in the bunch, there are some standouts, such as the streetwise stroll of "The Part I Like the Best"; the David Parker/Manuel Villa swamp R&B of "I'll Change My Style"; the utterly spooky tale of robbery and tragedy "Down into Mexico," and the ripped-heart ballads "Kiss Her Once for Me" and "Your Memory, Me, and the Blues." There's also the rollicking wide-open rocker "Dead Wrong." The sheer intensity and acumen of McClinton's delivery on these songs takes his reputation as one of the great R&B singers to an entirely new shelf. For McClinton fans, this will be a major cause to celebrate, for the uninitiated, this is as fine a place as any to start. It's authentic, full of heart, and so deep it's fathomless. - Thom Jurek

CD- Cost of Living (2005)