I Be Trying
Single Lock Records
Bring Clear Eyes and a Full Heart ….. Can’t Lose.
Although a world renowned singer-songwriter in his own rite; no review of Cedric Burnside is complete without having to mention that his late Grandfather was the legendary R.L. Burnside; the original keeper of the Bentonia Blues flame. Cedric in turn; puts his very own spin on this iconic style of music and here takes it head first inti the 21st Century!
Anyone who has heard his records before; or hopefully seen him play ‘live’ will know that the younger Burnside certainly ain’t no ‘one trick pony’ and while predominantly championed for his wild and intense playing; this album begins with the laconic solo acoustic song The World Can Be So Cold; and has all the hallmarks of being a crossover ‘hit’, with his exceptional finger picked guitar setting the hairs on the average listener’s neck standing on end!
Cedric ‘goes electric’ on the next song; Step In; and that Bentonic claustrophobic intensity is here in every single heart pounding note.
The same is true of most everything that follows; with Cedric’s talent for storytelling coming to the fore on the delicate Keep On Pushing and Pretty Flowers; both of which bring back memories of Ritchie P Havens many years ago; with Burnside blending Jazz licks with those powerful Blues chords.
Speaking of his songwriting; I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the way the actual songs are to the forefront here; where normally they would just be part of the package.
One of these highlights is undoubtedly What Makes Me Think, with it’s hypnotic chorus and heavy, heavy bass lines making for a song I can’t wait to hear played ‘live’.
Another cracker is the title track I Be Trying; which features the singer’s daughter Portrika on backing vocals as he takes on the role of a man begging for forgiveness:
“still learning and trying to be the best me.”
This track is actually followed by two straight up ‘love songs’; You Really Love Me and Love Is The Key; but these are ‘love songs’ in the Bentonia mould and take you to places far removed from the clubs of Chicago and London Town.
This is Cedric’s 9th album and he has developed beyond all comprehension since releasing THE RECORD 15 years ago; with the elegantly graceful Bird Without a Feather making him sound like a wise old sage as he speaks to his lost love; whom he has actually shot dead ‘because she done him wrong’ and on Get Down he even dabbles in Hendrixesque psychedelia without ever losing the subtleties that we expect and receive by the bucketful.
It’s been far from easy over the last few days trying to select a Favourite Track; the finale Love You Forever is a slow burning Blues song that just aches with longing; and earlier Gotta Look Out takes you on a trip back to the 60’s but with plenty of Cedric’s wondrous twists in every line and chord.
Which leaves me with Hands Off That Girl …… WOW …. WOW and thrice WOW!
The Blues comes in many hues; but rarely darker and more sensitive than this song. There’s so much I could say about it; but won’t …… you really need to hear it with a clear mind to get it and ‘feel it.’
Cedric Burnside has paid his dues over the years; spending an apprenticeship hauling the act around juke joints, bars and clubs across the world and only in the last couple of years has that started to pay off with Awards and Honors coming at him from all directions, so don’t be too surprised if this album not just features in some end of year High Falutin Top 10’s; but on the Big Boys Award Circuses too.