Afton Wolfe KINGS FOR SALE

Afton Wolfe
Kings For Sale
Grandiflora Records

Emotional and Rough-Edged Jazzy Country-Blues

Afton Wolfe released his debut EP in 2020;. Petronius’ Last Meal and was full of jazzy Country-Blues and rough-edged vocals, with a batch of well-written songs.
Kings For Sale reprises that formula; while kicking it up a notch with a colorful production by Grammy winner Oz Fritz that includes plenty of horns and some winsome pedal steel to go with Wolfe’s gruff, evocative voice.

The cover image shows Wolfe seemingly looking backward and forward at the same time, his inner thoughts reflecting on his outer self? A good primer for the music it accompanies.

The lead off track, “Paper Piano,” is a rocking delight complete with a perfectly matched horn section and rollicking piano.
The risqué “Dirty Girl” has a New Orleans flavor, making broad use of Wolfe’s sandpaper rough vocals and some simmering blues by his studio band.

Solid story telling with an old world melody and flavor in “Mrs. Ernst’s Piano” that goes beyond the simple morality tale it invokes. Interesting that this is the most easy to sing along with song on the album. Nothing like a tale of hard-headed racism at all, changing times, and karmic retribution to sing along with.

The fact that this tale seems to be set in olden days, yet is still sadly all too familiar today says much about our society. We need more like this.

“Fault Lines” reminds me a bit of John Murry’s lighter efforts; that is to say, this song is all rainy day grey, and bleak droning.

Yes, that is a compliment, by the way.
“Cemetery Blues” is the odd duck out on this collection in that it rocks the hardest with its distorted guitars and overblown rhythm section, yet it fits right in lyrically and emotionally.
A haunting memory—has a lover left, or are they dead?
When you’re so far gone in dark dreams and loss does it really matter?
This song is the bones of the dead cracking under your feet as you run headlong into the void, a dream of never ending desire that won’t let go.
Ending the album is “O’ Magnolia” and this is the song the state of Mississippi might not want, but sure does need.
A song of a changing South, a transition to a better, more inclusive future?
A hymn, not just to the new state flag of Mississippi, but to the South, and the United States of America in general. “Redemption will still take years,”
Wolfe sings on the final verse, knowing it’s not over yet, but in order for change to happen, one has to take that first, tentative and fateful step.
This is a smart song, as are all Wolfe’s song choices on this fine album, yet the emotion is not hampered by wordiness or all too clever for it’s own good word play.
Afton Wolfe is The Real Deal in a very shallow world.
Kings For Sale is a solid sophomore effort; give it a listen.

Review by the Legendary Roy Peak

Released 18th June 2021

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Mary Hott DEVIL IN THE HILLS

Mary Hott
Devil in The Hill
Self-Release

A History Lesson from the West Virginia Coalfields That Needs To Be Heard By the Nation At Large.

As the last child of a generation of Coal and Tin Miners I’m a sucker for a song about the coalfields, be that my local community in the NE of England or further afield in Nottinghamshire or even Olde Americae.
This particular group of songs and stories come from a tiny spec in West Virginia called Fayette County; that 99% of Virginians couldn’t find on a map ……. but need to be told for the generations that follow.
Even the background to the original concept is fascinating; with an old Coal Mining store being bought and restored to become a museum; only for ex-employees to make pilgrimages and tell their own dark and torrid tales,
These stories from the Whipple Company Store and similarly bleak recollections of coal mining and railroading life from other parts of West Virginia have been suppressed for too long.
At first, the people themselves kept silent and hid the stories out of fear and indignity.
When they finally shared their tales, their validity was often doubted, shaming them into believing that silence may have been the better choice.
And now the people who shared these stories are gone.
It is up to us to remember and continue sharing our history from the perspective of the people who lived it.

The album begins with Don Dixon talking about the mining community and how these stories have been passed down orally from Father to son and Mother to daughter for well over a century.
The rest of the album is West Virginian Folk Singer Mary Hott and a band of musicians who sound like they too ‘feel’ each and every one of these songs in their hearts …. and their scarred lungs.
The first song is They Built a Railroad; and proves to be a sad cornerstone for all that is too follow; with the now, romanticised Railway bringing workers in and then take the coal out ……. but the thread that weaves throughout is the way the workers were horrendously treated; most especially when they tried to form a fledgling Trades Union and make their working conditions slightly better.
“Our ancient hills held a rich man’s treasure,
They carried workers from Ellis Island.
They brought freed slaves to work the mines.
They trafficked girls for comfort and pleasure.
Total power over humankind.”
Powerful stuff indeed.
Then there is Annabel Lee, which follows; and this particularly dark tale of a beauteous young woman who is brought in to town; to ‘bring pleasure to the men’ ……. if your heart doesn’t cry out by the last verse; you’re reading the wrong review.
The emotion in Mary Hott’s voice, as she sings her songs is a genuine 8th Wonder of the World; as she has the capacity to go from passionate Honky-Tonker/Murder Ballad one minute, The Spot then grab your heart the next; squeezing out sparks the next with Devil in The Hills; then follow that up with the Gospel Infused Rise Up WV; which mentions all of the creeds and colours that were brought in not just from across the State but the Country to work the mine; and still make them all sound like a cohesive story; and never patronising the listener.
A rather fabulous album comes to a natural close; with Mary slowing things down quite beautifully with the traditional Gospel Ballad, Life’s Railway to Heaven and finally slow and heartfelt version of Take Me Home Country Roads; which couldn’t be any more fitting.
Which only leaves me to select a Favourite Song; which is hardly fair …… but the two songs/tracks that jumped into my head last night were the haunting 48 seconds of Blair Mountain Ballad, which will send a shiver down your back; and then, there is Room of Lost Souls which ….. well …… honestly; this raw tale of a miner who first goes down the pit as an 8 year old then eventually dies when his son is the exact same age; and the circle goes on ……. and sounds like a long lost Bobbie Gentry song; and if it was it would be heralded from the Rolling Stone rafters.
As well as a bunch of amazing yet horrendous songs; wonderfully created and constructed you also get a booklet that details the background (and more) to each and every story …… and this alone should be available in every school across America ……. this is your History; don’t forget it….. like the Authorities want.

Released June 4th 2021
https://maryhott.com/


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Kyle Culkin PORK CHOPS & BLUES

Kyle Culkin
Pork Chops & Blues
Tonebucker Records

A Little Ray of Rhythm and Blues Sunshine and a Bit of an Emotional Rollercoaster

I’ve been back in a dark place mentally recently; which as usual makes me think “Why do I bother” regarding the website ……. sad; but true; then along came Kyle Culkin with his Pork Chops & Blues; instantly the clouds began to lift and a little ray of sunshine entered my life.
A twenty year man at the coal-face of being a working musician; with only one previous solo release to his name; Kyle Culkin has been a ‘go to’ session man and touring geetar player for the great and the good (and no doubt the average too) with very little glory; apart from BB King saying “This kid can play!” but always paying the rent; so has that apprenticeship done him any good?
Hell yes it has!
The Pork Chop Song comes at you like a drunk on the dancefloor on a Saturday night ……… is it literally a song about Culkin’s favourite meat meal; or is it a metaphor for something sexual in nature? This is the Blues with a mighty streak of Rhythm so it could be either or both; and boy is it a crowd pleaser.
Now four days into this album and I can tell you that if you were wandering down a rainy Lonely Street one Tuesday evening and you saw the Kyle Culkin Band were playing in the Heartbreak Hotel your spirits would be lifted in such a way you may even try to marry the barmaid …… even if you are a woman!
On Delbert McClinton’s Why Me, Kyle certainly sounds like he has a twinkle in his eyes as he sings it; a bit of a Country-Rock spine to it; but it’s a pure Honky-Tonking Blues stomper of the highest order; and will have you dancing like no one’s watching ….. even if you’re in the kitchen.
While I love that song; Culkin’s slow and slinky songs really do it for me ……. both; Nothing From Nobody and Wouldn’t Change a thing are guaranteed to have you shouting “Ain’t that the truth Brother!” and Culkin and friends’ playing ain’t too shabby either, with barely a note out of place on two incredibly well constructed songs.
At only 8 tracks long this album still somehow manages to be an emotional rollercoaster, with By The Blues and the awe inspiring album closer Wouldn’t Change a Thing being the types of broken hearted love songs that have you reaching for a glass, then raising it to the stereo as Culkin makes you feel that you aren’t alone with these feelings.
Then; there has to be a Favourite Song of mine; here I’ve decided on two very different styles of song to battle it out.
Burn It All Down is an A-Typical Rhythm and Blues stomper with searing guitar; heart breaking harmonica and a singer who isn’t giving up easily …… and a chorus that is designed especially for public participation.
The other; and more likely winner is the song that blew my clouds away …….. a bit of a big band (BB King style?) production finds the singer sitting in his dressing room thinking when did I become So Damn Old!
Yep ….. that’s me Kyle Culkin is singing about; or possibly you too ……
Tell my wife and kids they should have seen me
back in my prime the age of 23
I could go all night long
Now with any luck ………
I need three cups of coffee
Just to get out of bed!”

Some days I think that there is too much music out there; and then albums like this arrive from someone I’ve never heard of ……. and my faith in the restorative powers of music; especially The Blues is restored; and the future looks rosy again.
Thank you Kyle Culkin.

Released May 28th 2021
https://www.kyleculkin.com/bio

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Dust Radio SHOTGUN SHACK

Dust Radio
Shotgun Shack
Lunario Records

Scandalously Good North Mississippi Blueswailin’ Stompers with a Punk Twist or Two.

I’ll tell you how good this album is; Mrs. Magpie has walked out of the room not once….. but twice when I’ve been playing it!
Now, that’s not a derogatory statement about her taste in music; just that these five blistering tracks of raw Blues music which derive their origins from the shacks of North Mississippi, but actually come from the start of the Mersey Delta in Greater Manchester to be pedantic; but if played loud enough are capable of stripping paint off the doors …. I know; I’ve tried.
I’ve seen similar acts over the years and I’m always left stunned how just a handful of musicians can kick up such a ruckus and fill the room with an absolute Wall of Sound….. but they do.
Dead Man’s Crawl which opens proceedings is an hypnotic stomper, with the most blueswailin’ harmonica you might ever hear in this lifetime; throw in some of the dirtiest guitar this side of a scrapyard and some Shaman shakers; it matters not what the neighbours think …. let them move!
It’s fair to say in advance none of these five songs are of the introspective, bedsit troubadour variety …… this is the Primeval Blues from the History Books but with some razor sharp 20th Century Punk twists too.
The title track, Shotgun Shack comes next; and the walls will still reverberate; only now we get to hear Paddy Wells rusty vocals in all their glory while Tom Jackson goes off on a a variety of fascinating and meandering guitar solos that bely his place in the duo’s shadows.
Things slow down for the sultry Fault Line; which will surely have the happy loving couples swirling around the dancefloor of any and every Roadhouse these cats ever play.
The finale Siren Song, has a narrative and rifftastic melody that takes more than their fair of left turns, but never strays too far from the Blues Reservation to scare the hard core; but I can’t say the same for purists.
Which leaves Backslider; arguably the most commercial track here; but that’s like saying ‘in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King.’
There’s a hint of the Allmans about it; possibly even early Bob Segar and I absolutely love it, especially the hypnotic chorus; ….. hence it’s my Favourite Song here ….. and I can’t wait for a) the album which is scheduled for later in 2021 and b) a UK Tour.

Released May 28th 2021
https://lunariarecords.com/dust-radio/


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RMHQ Music Hour Ep:20

RMHQ Music Hour
Episode 20
May 14th 2021

It’s that time of the week again …. MUSIC HOUR TIME!
It’s another eclectic mix of old, new, borrowed and Bluesy …… with a great and slightly surprising Gateway Song from Martin Stephenson; plus brand new tracks from fellow Geordies Shipcote and Paul Handyside; plus Dust Radio alongside Classics and rarities from the great and the good across Roots Music.
Twenty shows in and we still haven’t played the same song twice ….. and nor will we.

Linda Ronstadt#20 PODCASTBlue Bayou
Jeremy Pinnell#20 PODCASTAint Nothing Wrong
Nanci Griffith#20 PODCASTEverything’s Coming Up Roses
Malcolm Holcombe#20 PODCASTThe Empty Jar
Bap Kennedy#20 PODCASTReckless Heart
Jaime Wyatt#20 PODCASTDemon Tied to a Chair in my Brain
Dust Radio#20 PODCASTDead Man’s Crawl
John Clifton#20 PODCASTBrand New Way to Walk
Green on Red#20 PODCASTTime Ain’t Nothing
Hurricane Ruth#20 PODCASTWho I Am
Curse of Lono#20 PODCASTSaturday Night
Paul Handyside#20 PODCASTLight of my Life
Shipcote#20 PODCASTslow Walk on Wheels
Martin G Stephenson#20 PODCASTWe Are Storm
The Doors#20 PODCASTRiders on the Storm

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band DANCE SONGS FOR HARD TIMES

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
Dance Songs for Hard Times
Family Owned Records

The Sound of the New Blues – Best Served Live and Loud!

My first encounter with the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band was a few years back at the rear of the Clubhouse Hotel in Kilkenny, where the band were doing a frantic last-minute ‘load in’ after their flights from the US had been severely delayed.
Rather than give up after missing their timetabled slots, they just had their gigs moved and they honoured their responsibilities with a fiery energy that belied their inevitable jetlag.
That same energy is ever-present, on this, their latest release; which follows in a tradition of three piece bands with a big sound; from the Crickets through to ZZ Top and beyond.
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band deliver an album of enthusiastic rhythm and, it should be noted …. Blues.
Opener “Ways and Means” has a Howlin’ Wolf meets ZZ Top vibe, underscored by Washboard Breezy’s ‘trademark’ old school washboard.
“Rattle Can” adds a Punk attitude and is reminiscent of a more serious Mojo Nixon, whereas “Dirty Hustlin’” is a much more sedate but still, insistently grinding groove.
As their titles suggest, “I’ll Pick You Up” and “Too Cool to Dance” are both dancefloor pleasers – somewhat ironically in the case of the latter’s lyrical content.
The most laid back and reflective track on the album comes midway in the shape of “No Tellin’ When” which evokes the spirit of early blues in both sentiment and feel.
“Sad Songs” engages gospel-like backing and makes a good case for the Reverend to become the new singer in AC/DC should Brian Johnston decide to hand over the vocal reins.
“Crime to Be Poor” opens with fuzztone harmonica and then stomps its way angrily through an anti-austerity rant.
“Til we die” despite its title is a bouncing slide-led roadhouse blues thumper, as is penultimate track “Nothin’s Easy But You and Me”.
Things end with “Come Down Angels”, which, as its title suggests, is again Gospel-framed musically; and despite a slow start, it soon revs (sic) into high gear and is perfectly constructed for call and response and audience participation in the live arena, where this band really excels.
I’ve heard a few Blues albums recently – which will remain nameless – and among them, I’ve heard a great deal of sloppy, lazy playing that’s been passed off as “authenticity” – no such worries here though – Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band are as tight and energetic as you’d hope for, (and for me) are definitely the Sound of the New Blues, and best served Live and LOUD!

Review by Nick Barber
https://www.bigdamnband.com/

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Steve Cropper FIRE IT UP

STEVE CROPPER
Fire it Up
Mascot Label/Provogue

Original Music from a Master Craftsman That Simply Oozes Class and Dignity

Steve Cropper moved, with his family, from Willow Springs, Missouri to Memphis when he was just 7 years old, acquiring his first guitar at 14, and with Charlie Freeman formed The Royal Spades who eventually became The Mar-Keys.
When Chips Moman left Stax Records in 1964, Cropper became the company’s A&R man; plus he was a founding member of the iconic Stax “house band” Booker T. & the M.G.’s.

Now, well into his seventh decade as a recording artist he will be 80 years old later this year.
Also famous for his role in both Blues Brothers movies he has led an incredibly eclectic musical career as a hugely admired guitarist, creative producer and a legendary song-writer too.
Whilst he has been featured on innumerable albums over those years, there are not many that just have his name as the sole artist.
In fact Cropper calls Fire It Up his first proper solo album since 1969 and has called upon long-term collaborator Jon Tiven to twiddle the knobs as his co-producer

Never known as a singer he has the benefit of bringing in Roger C. Reale to add his gruff and funky voice to the album; leaving Steve to apply the rhythms and subtle grooves, as he, the absolute epitome of a team player, has done for many others these years.
The album kicks off with “Bush Hog Part 1” a very upbeat, funk-groove instrumental that really sets the tone, quickly followed by the title track, “Fire It Up” a bluesy foot-tapper introducing the energetic vocals of Roger Reale to the fray. Trademark laid back guitar licks open up “One Good Turn” with the maestro delivering a couple of additional mid-song solos that are the polar opposite of declamatory.

I’m Not Having It” brings back that funky groove again, before “Out of Love” ups the tempo and has the catchy strap-line chorus of
when push comes to shove, I’d rather be out of love”.
A tight horn section are featured on most tracks, indeed very prominent on “Far Away” once again with peachy, under-stated guitar solos ensuring we all know whose name is on the album cover.

The “Say You Don’t Know Me” opening bars remind me of Judy in Disguise as it chugs along with the guitar fills coming straight from a Stax sounding Sam & Dave type memory, with Mr. Reale telling you
It’s a offer you can’t refuse, It’s a deal you can’t lose”.
Everyone should be up on the floor with “She’s So Fine”, with the full might of the brass section complimenting Steve’s recognisable repetitive six string under score.
Two Wrongs” is mostly about Rogers lyrics informing you of the obvious “don’t make a right” whilst “Heartbreak Street” cranks up the band with the familiar storyline chorus of
You’re leaving me on on Heartbreak Street, That’s where the lonely go to meet”.

Before the album ends with 2 more variations on the “Bush Hog” instrumental we have another brass laden soul number “The Go-Getter is Gone”, which follows the theme and tone of the album with Croppers’ clean and crisp picking refreshingly continuing in the middle of the mix.

Listening to the album 7 or 8 times now I’ve struggled to come up with an absolute favourite track, that is apart from the ear-worm groove of the 3 Bush Hog instrumentals. However, this is not a negative thing, far from it as what we have here is a really solid Rhythm & Blues / Soul album, which could easily come from the 1970’s but has a much more contemporary and 21st. Century vibe to it.

In a world full of gregarious show-offs and axe-wielding extroverts all trying to make your speakers explode, it’s just plain wonderful that there are still humble and respectful musicians plying their trade.
Steve Cropper is and always has been a real creative, genuine southern gentleman, but we should all marvel that he continues to produce original music that oozes so much simpatico and dignity.

Released on 23rd. April 2021

Jack KiddMessin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

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David Olney and Anana Kaye WHISPERS And SIGHS

David Olney and Anana Kaye
Whispers and Sighs
Schoolkids Records

A Legend Adds To His Legacy With a Boundary Shifting Closing Act.

Whispers and Sighs starts off right away telling you it’s going to be a bit different with an oh-too-short instrumental called “The Station” that’s a little bit classical and mournful, with a bit of gypsy flourish too, which levitates you to another time and place, setting the scene for this wonderful collection of songs by relative newcomer violinist Anana Kaye and legendary folk singer David Olney.
For newcomers, Olney was a rock and folk musician who recorded twenty albums in his fifty years in the business and was a songwriter with few equals.Sadly, he died doing what he loved best, passing away early last year, of an apparent heart attack while onstage, three songs into a songwriter festival in Florida.
David Olney lived music, a true troubadour to the end. Whispers and Sighs is his final album, a mixture of Americana, rock and folk with a healthy dose of gypsy fiddle tunes supplied by Kaye who also provides vocals on a number of tunes.
Anana Kaye, originally from the European country of Georgia, brings plenty of spitfire and a decidedly European air to the overall ambience.
Kaye takes the spotlight on a few songs such as the wistfully hypnotic “My Last Dream of You” and the toe tapping rocking dance pop (by the way of some decidedly Keef-esque guitar) on “Last Days of Rome.”
Kaye’s voice is winsome and breathy, and at times it reminds me a bit of Gina Birch from the Raincoats— and she can snarl rightly when required!
Speaking of voices, Olney himself, is in fine voice throughout this album, whether it’s his velvety tones on “My Favorite Goodbye” or his commanding reading at the end of “Last Days of Rome,” which adds to the tension of the song already created by Kaye; and the wonderful production by Irakli Gabriel.
The whole album grows on you a bit as you dig deeper into the cuts.
The production by Gabriel is simple, yet to the point.
Nothing wasted, nothing missing, from the warm nostalgia of “Behind Your Smile” and it’s sweet string section, to the punchy drums, rolling fuzzbass, and searing guitars of “Lie To Me” which features a surprising piano break.
Olney wasn’t just folk, he played in rock outfits too, and this album showcases his willingness to take a song to its limits to make it work whatever the genre.
Olney wasn’t one to rest on his laurels, and this album is definitely a fine testament to his legacy.

A beautiful record. Only wisdom and deep experience can make music like this.” — Mike Scott, The Waterboys

Review by Roy Peak

Released 19th March 2021
https://davidolney.com/

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David Olney Back Catalogue
https://schoolkidsrecords.com/Artist/12547

RMHQ Radio Show JUMPIN’ HOT CLUB 35th Anniversary Special Pt’s #1 and #2

RMHQ Radio Show
Jumpin’ Hot Club 35th Anniversary Special Pts #1 & 2

Bringin’ the Jive Since ’85

35 years ago this week in 1985 two young men. Graham Anderson and Adam Collerton booked their first act for the Jumpin’ Hot Club; and now in 2021 they are still announcing gigs from new and ground breaking Roots Acts in 2021.

The list of acts they’ve brought to the North East of England just goes on and on; with many household names in the Roots World making their first tentative steps into Europe courtesy of this nomadic club.

As a very minor cog over the last twenty years I’m proud to bring you two one hours shows highlighting the diversity of acts, if not an actual Best Of …….

Here’s Part #1

Hokum Hotshots1st Band Booked#11 PodcastGuitar Swing
Big Town Playboys1st Name Band#11 PodcastYou gotta do more for my baby
Davinia and the Vagabonds#11 PodcastMagic Kisses
Chuck Prophet#11 PodcastBad Year for Rock and Roll
Kim Richey#11 PodcastChase Wild Horses
Dale Watson#11 PodcastAint that livin’?
Howlin’ Ric#11 PodcastLeg Shakin’ Mama
JD McPherson#11 PodcastFirebug
Sarah Shook#11 PodcastHeartache in Hell
James Hunter/Howlin Wilf#11 PodcastI GOT MY EYES ON YOU
Laura Cantrell#11 PodcastThe Whiskey Makes You Sweeter
Everly Brothers#11 PodcastCrying in the rain
Chastity Browndebut#11 PodcastColorado
Otis Gibbsdebut#11 PodcastGhosts of our Fathers
Gem Andrews#11 PodcastCome a Long Way
Willie Nile#11 PodcastGrandpa Rocks
Waco Brothers#11 PodcastPlenty Tough Union Made
Be Good Tanyas#11 PodcastFor the Turnstiles
Danny and the Champs#11 PodcastJust Be Yourself
Sam Baker#11 PodcastMigrants
Mary Gauthier#11 PodcastCigarette Machine
Martin Stephenson#11 PodcastBig Sky New Lights
Frazey Ford#11 PodcastMoney Can’t Buy
Holmes Brothers#11 PodcastPromised Land
Alejandro Escovedo#11 PodcastRosalie
Dave and Phil Alvin#11 PodcastRattlesnakin’ Daddy
Hubert Sumlin#11 PodcastBlues is here to stay
Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham#11 PodcastCry Like a Baby
Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay#11 PodcastMr Wonderful (EXCLUSIVE)

Shawn Pittman STOMPIN’ SOLO

Shawn Pittman
Stompin’ Solo
Continental Record Services

Classic Acoustic Blues Really Comes Alive Again.

It never rains, but it pours does it? Only a few weeks ago I was talking to my brother about the lack of Blues Albums I was receiving and a few days later CRS sent a package with the Johnny Mastro album that I reviewed two weeks ago; and this Solo effort from Shawn Pittman.
To some degree I’m tired to the back teeth of albums ‘forced on artists’ because of the Covid Pandemic. Obviously I have every sympathy as I’m well aware that musicians have to make a living; but yikes …… show some imagination guys and girls!
Shawn Pittman has done just that; by selecting a bunch of Classic, Neo-Classic and barely known Blues tunes from across the ages that he can put his own indelible stamp on; in an acoustic fashion.
I don’t know nearly half of the songs and tunes here; but that only adds to the excitement I’ve felt right from the delightfully complex instrumental Mance’s Rock which opens proceedings and really sets the tone for what is to follow; starting with Leanin’ Load which could easily have been recorded in a Delta Shack some time pre-WWI if they’d only had the advantage of a 21st Century home studio that Shawn Pittman obviously has.
Pittman’s guitar playing is as intoxicating as I’d expected; or at least hoped …… as not every electric guitarist can play an acoustic with as much discernible skill; but Shawn can; but it’s his voice that has surprised me most of all; it’s damn near perfect for the the way these songs need to be sung …… heart, soul and fervour in equal measure.
There’s not a dud here; as Pittman slips and slides seamlessly between the soulful Go Down Swingin’ and Pressin’ Your Luck through the downright sleazy version of Johnny Guitar Watson’sSweet Lovin’ Momma and even getting your toes a’tappin on Lightnin’s Stomp but it’s when he gets low down and heartbreakingly honest; he’s at his best.
That’s Alright, Somebody’s Going to Win; Somebody’s Going to Lose and Pressin’ Your Luck that Shawn Pittman really comes alive and adds an extra dimension to what may have been tiresome cover versions in lesser hands (and we’ve all been in that bar, on that night!).
Speaking of which; I’d pay a Kings ransom to see Shawn Pittman in a greasy dive bar or Honky Tonk on a steamy Summer’s evening singing Fly Swattin’ Momma, Ode to Texas and especially No Such Thing, which will make you think you are time shifting back to the less than Roaring 20’s.
While this is a Long Player in the grand tradition and should be played in such a manner; Shawn Pittman somehow manages to make two songs sound very special indeed; and I have no idea how he creates the magic he does on the slide drenched Early in The Mornin’ and Take a Real Close Look which follows ……. but he does, therefore they tie for the title of RMHQ Favourite Track.
Obviously this type of raw acoustic Country-Blues won’t be to everyone’s taste; but if you are an admirer of the genres Roots you could do a lot worse than starting here; it’s a belter.

Released March 12th 2021
https://shawnpittman.com/

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