CHRISTONE “Kingfish” INGRAM
Eloquently Delivered Tales From a Leading Figure in the New Generation of The Blues.
Sophomore albums are always real tricky, especially when your debut effort gained so many accolades and won so many awards, eventually being nominated for a Grammy.
For a young man such as 22 year old Christone “Kingfish” Ingram being born and bred in the ‘Birthplace of the Blues,’ has somehow given him more than enough ammunition to avoid the well documented pitfalls that beset so many follow ups.
Of course, it helps to have an impeccable team behind you, manager and friend Rick Whitney has ensured that once again iconic Grammy winning producer – Tom Hambridge is not just the producer, oh he’s also your drummer, ah and also your conducive co-songwriter. It’s no velleity that the team behind this musical phenomenon continue their association with the record company currently celebrating their 50th. Anniversary: Bruce Iglauers Alligator Records.
Most of the songs were jointly created during the Pandemic by Ingram and Hambridge plus one of Tom’s long term, trusted collaborators, Richard Fleming being involved in half the compositions too. The album was recorded at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville with many of Music City’s top session men sitting in on the sessions.
662 is the telephone Area Code for 6 counties across Northern Mississippi, where Kingfish was born, less than 10 miles from the legendary Crossroads of Highways 49 & 61, smack dab in the middle of Clarksdale.
The CD version has a bonus track to add to the other 13, providing some 53 beatific minutes of contemporary Blues Music; that somehow draws inspiration from an impressively wide spectrum of styles.
So, the title track “662” (which was released as a preview single) kicks off the proceedings with a rip-roaring back beat and Glenn Worfs bass helping punch through the lyrics regaling Kingfish’s’ memories of his birthplace and childhood. Indeed, autobiographical honesty radiates most of the albums lyrical themes, none more so than on “Something in the Dirt” and the funky “Too Young to Remember”.
Whilst romantic dreams are shining out on “She Calls Me Kingfish” and “I Got to See You;” there’s also stories of the impact a life on the road, moving from city to city, hotel to hotel can have on a man’s body and soul; on “Long Distance Woman” and “That’s What You Do”.
The bonus track, “Rock & Roll” is dedicated to his mother who died in early 2020, and was previously issued as a stand-alone single last Summer and could, for many listeners, steal the show as the highlight of this superb album.
But, there are 2 others that pip it for my own personal choice of Favourite.
Firstly, the slower, jazzier “You’re Already Gone” has rather subtle guitar from both Kingfish and another Grammy winner in the wonderfully expressive Bob Britt.
However, the trump card that has been played on my sound system more than any others is the soulful ballad that comes from “That’s All it Takes,” sounding more like it’s straight out of Royal or Stax Studios, 200 miles away with Marty Sammon’s B3 underlining the sax of Max Abrams and the horn of Julio Diaz. Vocally, it’s more controlled in the Jerry Butler or Major Harris mold and just the sort of song that could close any dance hall when you pair up with the one you’ve been watching; and wanting to smooch, all night long.
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is most certainly no ‘one trick pony;’ 662 amplifies his credentials as a leading figure of the new generation of The Blues.
His guitar playing embodies several of his six string heroes, but melded into a very distinctive style whilst his lyrics articulate the experiences from his life, thus far.
At the front end of the mix is his remarkable vocals that eloquently deliver the tales and vivid memories with unadulterated sincerity plus the welcome bonus of crystal clear diction.