New Blues and Soul News – 2/24/2015

New Blues News – 2/24/2015

New Blues Adds:

Doug MacLeod – Exactly Like This (Reference Recordings):  Veteran singer/songwriter/guitarist MacLeod treats us to his 25th release and it is a definite winner!  All of the songs are originals and the sound is unadorned, acoustic, and infectious.  MacLeod weaves great tales and the straightforward directness of his performances just draw the audience in.  Nothing, including his voice or guitar style, is incredibly flashy, but each song and overall performance has its own style and strength.  He also gets solid support from Jimi Bott (drums), Denny Croy (bass) and Mike Thompson (keys). Give it a try and see if you don’t have a really good time!  BTW, MacLeod’s early performing days took place in Norfolk, VA while he was stationed there in the Navy.  Click here for live performance from about a year ago.  Note: This song is not on this disc. 

Mudslide Charley – New & Used (Gutbucket):  Electric blues band from Montana offering mostly original songs cut from classic blues patterns of the 50’s and 60s.  The band features Marco Littig (g, vox), Phil Hamilton (harp, sax, vox), Emi Kodama (vox), Tahj Kjelland (b, vox), and Roger Moquin (d, vox) and they cover quite a range.  It’s largely reminiscent of the “pre-Rock” interpretations of yesterday before blues rock took over.  Their vocals even evoke the vocal sound of 60s folk and rock’n’roll to an extent.  They create their own rap-style vocal interpretation to add drama to a few of the more intense blues.  There are some interesting musical ideas, making this worth a listen so you can decide if this appeals to you.   Click here for a live performance from 2011.

Mulebone – New Morning (Red Tug):  2010 release by this unique duo, featuring Hugh Pool on guitar, bootboard, and harmonica and John Ragusa on flutes, cornet, penny whistle, conch shell and Jews harp.  Both sing. About half of these tunes are originals, but even the warhorses sound new, given their unique instrumental approach and arrangements (check out “How Many More Years”).  There is a good bit of variety here and though I would recommend checking out their most recent (“Keep On Movin’”) for its musical reach, if you prefer a somewhat more traditional set, this will have more appeal. In either case, this is a good outing.  Click here for a live performance.

Igor Prado & The Delta Groove All Stars – Way Down South (Delta Groove):  Amazing Brazilian guitarist Prado and his drummer brother are completely down – playing the blues!  Combine them with the line-up Delta Groove can gather and you have a blues disc that will burn you right down to the bone!  Prado’s guitar is awesome and his vocals on two songs solidify his place as a bluesman.  The liner notes inform us that many blues players have sought Prado out for his recording and performing skill and it’s easy to see why.  Here’s a list of “guests”: vocalists Sugar Ray Rayford, Mud Morganfield, Lynwood Slim, and Kim Wilson – no harp on this one, but… harp players Rod Piazza (and Ms Honey tickles the ivories), Mitch Kashmar, and Ivan Marcio, and guitarists Mike Welch, Junior Watson – in addition to Prado himself, of course.  It’s a party from one end to the other and is well worth checking out.  I feel certain we’ll be hearing lots more from him and his drummer brother Yuri!  Click here for a live performance of a song on this disc.

Lydia Warren & Friends – Hotel Beds (self-produced):  Singer, songwriter, blazing blues guitarist Warren has been steadfastly burning up the blues scene wherever she’s played over the past few years.  This 2013 release is the most recent of seven. Seven of the ten songs are originals that showcase her vocal and guitar synthesis of what some have referred to as her “West Side” sensibility.  Her synthesis ranges wider than that on this disc. I hear rockin’ blues as the title tune could have as much to do with Chuck Berry, The Stones, or George Thorogood as Magic Sam but the latter’s style of intense playing certainly is there. She also covers his song “Come Into My Arms” with authority!  The main point here, though, is that Warren has learned from her predecessors, but is not content to recreate anyone’s particular style. She plays full on blues, alt-blues, if there is such a thing, and even a declarative folk blues. The set even includes a nod to the country soul style from the classic days of the 60s and 70s.  Warren’s vocals are versatile – fiery, sultry, and sometimes full growling or shouts. The band on this release includes Danny Banks (bass, vox), Chris Rivelli (drums), and Josh Fulero (guitar). BTW, she has also served an internship at Smithsonian Folkways, has conducted research on such themes as “race, gender, and (perceived) authenticity in modern blues music and the history of Beale Street”  AND is currently at UVA working on a PhD at the McIntire Department of Music!  Check out this disc and just see if you don’t wanna hear more!!!!  Click here for a live performance.

New Soul Adds:

Donnie Ray – She’s My Honey Bee (Ecko): Memphis disco-soul, right for the club, but…will it ring your radio bell?  Let’s look at the highs first: REAL instruments, even if there is some electronic pervasiveness on several songs; Donnie Ray can handle the style and has a very good voice; the songs make you want to dance. The downside: the songs begin to sound like slower or faster versions of the same schmaltz; you’re not actually dancing with the hot partner suggested by the song’s dreamy sounds; for several songs, the basic music and lyrics are good and engaging, but they aren’t strong enough to prevent the dulling impact of extended repetition.  Could be that I’ve rarely liked disco music, finding that it isn’t interesting enough to sustain the merit of the basic song for the length of the recording. You’ll have to decide.  Click here for a sample.




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