Catfish Keith |
Land of the Sky
Fish Tail Records
Back to The Roots of Roots Music and The World Becomes a Little Bit Better Because Of It.
As someone with barely a musical bone in his body; I’m never less than amazed when someone like Catfish Keith; who has been recording and touring for 40+ years, can still come up with new and fresh ideas for songs and even tunes and melodies too on this, his 20th album.
For the uninitiated Keith is from Indiana but is something of a World Traveller, collecting many and varied influences and ideas along the way; but never really straying too far from his first love; Acoustic Country-Blues and keeping that flame alive.
Opening track, Jimmie Rodgers,’ Away on The Mountain is not your typical Catfish Keith; as he attempts a yodel on each and every chorus of this impassioned story told via his road-worn baritone voice and some intricate guitar picking too.
Personally I’ve liked Catfish Keith for a good few years now; especially his regular visits to the Jumpin’ Hot Club in Newcastle and this album shows no signs of his talents diminishing or even wearing out.
This is followed by Bimini Girl; certainly a song that will divide opinion among his fans; as he takes inspiration from a Bahamian guitarist called Joseph Spence on what’s meant to be a ‘fun track’ but wasn’t for me at all; especially the strangulated vocals.
Skipping neatly past, there is a whole lot to like here; none more so than Little Bitty Bird and the punchy Red Nightgown which features some really scary slide guitar.
Like his musical forefathers; Leadbelly, Charley Patton, Rev. Gary Davis and the like; Catfish Keith is an extraordinary singer-guitarist; but far from ‘easy listening’ …… this music isn’t for the faint hearted; it’s for aficionados; and only connoisseur’s of the Art will be stunned beyond belief by Keith’s re-interpretation of Memphis Minnie’s Dirty Mother For You and his own fragile Little Bitty Bird too.
Even as a fan, LAND OF THE SKY has taken some ‘getting into’ for me; but it’s been well worth it as I’ve discovered some absolute gems of songs in the way Catfish delivers his take on the Rev. Gary Davis’s Samson & Delilah and Charley Patton’s Some of These Days, which closes the album in a darkly mesmeric fashion.
Selecting a single Favourite Song has been nigh on impossible; as it’s not that kind of album …… there sure ain’t any radio friendly singles here; that’s for sure!
But; if I had to point you towards a couple of songs as ‘tasters’ I guess it would be the jaunty Scoodle Oot ‘n Doo or Bust ‘Em Down which are probably the easiest on the ear; but that’s not the point of these songs or indeed the whole album; you need to invest time and patience to get the best from them.
As it’s that time of year; I will forgive Keith for slipping in a Christmas song; Walter Davis’ Santa Claus Blues which is the total antithesis of anything you will hear on radio in the Festive Season; as only the bravest or craziest of DJ’s would ever play this for public consumption …… but I bloody love it!
One last note, before I sum up …… while I don’t understand the intricate differences; guitar fetishists will love Catfish Keith’s notes on which guitar he used on each track.
From what I remember; I think Catfish Keith has gone back to his Roots here and the world is a little bit better because he has.
Released 27th October 2021
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