Technically, Steve Gilbert's Hempstead Highway is a “debut” album, albeit one made by an obviously seasoned musician. By high school, the guitarist and singer was already playing in local juke joints and icehouses, before moving on to the bright lights of the L.A. roots-rock scene and coming home in the late '90s. Gilbert has been a fixture on Houston's bluesier stages since then, spending a number of years with the H-Town Jukes. Hempstead reflects that experience with a tribute to one of Gilbert's local mentors, the late Joe “Guitar” Hughes, and some solid playing by a number of Houston's most reliable musicians, among them William Hollis, Snit Fitzpatrick, “Sparetime” Murray, Jeffrey Hamby and Carl Owens. The methodical, even laid-back Hempstead is not meant to knock anybody's socks off, but for those looking to curl up after midnight with a tumbler of something amber, it'll do quite nicely indeed.