McClinton lets you know he still has it right from the start, kicking things off with "One of the Fortunate Few." Like most of the set's 13 tracks, it clocks in at under three minutes, during which Delbert winds a coy narrative around a piano riff straight from the Bayou in a manner reminiscent of Lowell George and Little Feat. "Right to Be Wrong" somehow recalls both the theme from "Peter Gunn" and the music of the Honky-Tonk. The album's lone cover is a solid take of Jimmy Reed's "I'll Change My Style," one of several tracks to effectively feature guitarist Rob McNelley. Other standout tracks include the witty boogie "Hammerhead Stew," the outlaw saga "Down Into Mexico" and "That's Alright By Me," the Charles Brown-esque ballad that closes the session.
Delbert McClinton comes through once again with another fine album in Cost of Living. Less gritty than the records he made during his tenure with Alligator, his musical crossover of blues, country and rock is nonetheless a convincing one. There is, after all, an awful lot of common ground between the three genres. Extolling the virtues of various forms of music to a woman on "Two Step Two" McClinton sings "I like to listen to rock and roll, but I like a two step two." And I believe him.