Benjamin Jason Douglas
FIRST WORLD BLUES
Flour Sack Cape Records
Slick, Smart and Swampy Country Blues.
Yet again you can thank my trusty I-Phone for finding this album for me and indeed you. OK, I’ve had it in the reviews box for a few weeks but with so many other albums from artistes that you and I know and love, to listen to this one kept getting pushed to the back.
Then last Monday on a rain swept journey to work, the opening track Tent Pole came sashaying out of the car speakers like a New Orleans funeral marching band; and I was instantly captivated.
The return journey 10 hours later was made up of the complete album as my soundtrack; and now I can’t get enough of Douglas’s raspy and wheezy voice and that’s nothing compared to his articulate way with words and a tune.
Beat Black and Blue Collar Blues which follows, is another jaunty mid-tempo song; nay ‘howl’ and hearing it that first night had me bellowing out the chorus after barely a minute; and certainly not in time with the young Nashville based singer-songwriter.
While the album refers to ‘The Blues’ it’s actually a bit of a misnomer; as Benjamin Jason Douglas (aka BJD here on in) is a crafty singer-songwriter with a toe in many camps; but manages quite easily to bring them all together under one wonderful musical umbrella.
Our young man can really Rock-a-Tune when he wants to with Digging a Stigmata, which sits quite comfortably between the low down and sultry Doc Red Blues and the oh so cool late night Jazzy tones of Funny Feeling.
It’s all too easy and even lazy to compare BJD to the likes of Dr. John and even the lyricism of Randy Newman; who must have been influences, but our Benjamin is very much his own man when it comes to writing a cool song and delivering it with his own swagger and a side order of panache; as Tchoupitoulis and the almost Swampy Gothic of Walking Down The Grain both prove.
Choosing a Favourite Track was quite easy for me as one song stood out just by it’s title alone; and that’s Raggedy Andy Williams, as the 70’s crooner is a ‘guilty pleasure’ around these here parts; and BJD’s heart rendering chorus of “honestly Alice/how did you expect/ this Raggedy Andy Williams love story to end?” sang with a croak in his already gruff and leathery voice almost had me in tears that first night in the car! I’m pleased that I’ve never suffered a break-up like this; as I’m not sure I would have come out the other end in one piece; but then again, I’m not a songwriter, and such matters of the heart and how they deal with them are what separates guys like Benjamin Jason Douglas from the rest of the pack.
But credit must also go to the epic Street Preacher and Gloria which combine to close an absolutely fabulous debut album; that is destined to be a bit of a go-to album in the RMHQ Offices for a long time to come.
I will end by going back to the beginning; because this album is the perfect soundtrack to a stormy and heartbroken night; but I’ve also played it on the big speakers as I lounged in the garden on a sunny and hot Sunday afternoon and it didn’t annoy the neighbours.
Released August 10th 2018