If you’re a fan of crunchy old fashioned country blues thrashing as delivered recently by the likes of Seasick Steve and even Jack White, chances are you’ll be a sucker for Texan Lincoln Durham’s debut album. Produced by veteran Ray Wylie Hubbard and studio veteran George Reiff the album is stuffed full of portentous blues slinks driven by Lincoln’s guitar accompanied by the fine drums of Rick Richards. While they provide the backbone the music is occasionally fleshed out with additional guitar by Derek O’Brien, Reiff and Hubbard himself. Mandolin, accordion and fiddle make their brief appearances and Lincoln’s gruff impassioned vocals have occasional backup.
More importantly however is the fact that although Durham is steeped in the idioms and tradition of the blues and utilises well known tropes and allusions his writing is fresh. While he conjures up a land where religion, superstition, death and tradition hold sway there are no twelve bar or boogie blues on display here. The impression of bygone days is reinforced by Lincoln’s note that the album was “Recorded using early to mid-century Gibsons, Kays, Silvertones, Voxs, Bell & Howells, guitars found in potted plants, cardboard boxes, bird feeders, oil pans, hacksaws, feet and anything else that would make a noise.”
From the opening suicide letter that is Drifting Wood with its acoustic guitar maelstrom to the closing Trucker’s Love Song which approaches the majesty of The Band in their heyday all of these songs are excellent. While there are some low down dirty blues moans such as Living This Hard and Mud Puddles, Durham is able to pen a love letter from a dead man to his lover visiting his grave in Clementine that, aside from revisiting the well known Long Black Veil, is a catchy and hummable tune. With nods to Muddy Waters and Fred McDowell in the lyrics its apparent that Durham knows where his roots lie and its to his credit that he’s able to gather them all up and create something new here.
Trucker’s Love Song
Matt Anderson Coal Mining Blues
From country blues to a smoother, more soul influenced blues style, Matt Anderson is a young Canadian whose fourth album finds him produced by the great Colin Linden (Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) who adds some scintillating guitar to most of the cuts here and co-wrote several of the songs. Recorded at Levon Helm’s studios there’s another Band connection with Garth Hudson contributing accordion on Home Sweet Home. Anderson and band conjure up a fine soulful sound with horns and organ beefing up the sound while he and Linden duel on guitar with Anderson proving himself no slouch on his own solos. He sings well with his performance on the superb Otis Redding like Baby I’ll Be outstanding. This is the highlight of the album with a beautiful and tender guitar solo that is just so good it begs to be listened to again and again. Anderson excels on the title song and She Comes Down which are in the grand tradition of southern soul but he can also rip loose on the swaggering Fired Up and Heartbreaker. The rural side of the blues is visited in Home Sweet Home and Willie’s Diamond Joe where mandolin and accordion replace the horns and keyboards and while not as immediate as the rest both are fine songs.
Anderson has gained some rave reviews on his previous tours over here and he’s returning in late February and March although we don’t see and Scottish gigs listed. Nevertheless a fine album that grows in stature with repeated listening.
Baby I’ll Be