Lonesome Chris Todd
Dark Horses E.P.
Market Square Music
Impassioned and Heartfelt Northern Irish Delta Blues.
Historically I like to get my reviews up and running a week or two before the release date, but because of work/life commitments I sometimes have to take a second look at my spreadsheet to see if I’ve missed anything of interest …….. and thankfully I did that last week and found this exciting gem.
Apparently Chris Todd fronts a Northern Irish (Electric) Blues Band called the Hardchargers, but has decided to go back to his Blues Roots for this release ……… and without giving anything away …… I’m mighty glad he has!
The self-penned title track Dark Horses starts the EP, and the way he plays his acoustic guitar and phrases his words, the first name that sprung to mind was Jose Feliciano; wow …… can he make his guitar weep, wail and howl along with his very own words and story of the same ilk.
This song and the crystal clear production are probably worth the entrance fee alone; but there’s even better to come.
Normally it’s difficult for any artist to capture your attention with only four songs; especially when only two are your own and the two are covers, but the enigmatic ‘Lonesome Chris’ does this with ease; especially with the two stunning covers – Lightnin’ Hopkin’s Lonesome Dog Blues is not just scintillating and stark, it’s also accessible for anyone who wants to know what all the fuss is about when Grown men like me go all misty eyed when discussing Delta Blues; and it’s the same with his re-evaluation of Bukka White’s Shake ‘Em Down, a staple of many a Blues Set in the 1960’s and more recently rediscovered by some young friends in Newcastle. But Todd adds shine, pathos and heart in a way I don’t think I’ve heard before on any other version.
The actual stand-out song here is again from Todd’s own pen and experiences. Written during a short period of homelessness in 2017 while living in England, Irishman Todd manages to capture that ‘extra something’ that only ‘The Blues’ can give in Red Lion Yard. Is it because it’s so touching? Heartfelt? Raw? Passionate? that I’ve played this song five times in succession this morning? I don’t know, but it’s an absolute stunner.
There is so much to like and admire in these four songs; and not just the songs themselves but Todd’s warm and rich singing voice and not least his outstanding guitar playing which are captured in all of their glory by Cormac O’Kane’s sympathetic production.
Released March 30th 2019