The Blues – but made in Scotland from girders
Dave Arcari’s story could be a template for all aspiring musicians; he’s been hawking his act around the Blues and Rock circuits in the UK and Europe for what seems a lifetime; backing bands have come and gone, leaving him to play house concerts and every pub backroom between here and Minsk and when that dried up he supplemented his income by a succession of songwriting and guitar teaching (bottleneck and slide) jobs yet he’s never given up on his dream.
There’s not a lot to differentiate “Whisky in my Blood” from his previous albums, but the Helsinki Hellraisers are more sympathetic to his requirements than previous incumbents and the producer has managed to capture the essence of Arcari’s incredible live performances without compromising anything in sound quality.
The album opens with the jaunty title track and many people will switch off after a minute or so, because Arcari’s gruff voice is an acquired taste; but if you stay tuned in you will fall in love with the latest in a long bloodline of great Delta Bluesmen from Son House to the darling of mainstream radio, Seasick Steve.
Not that this is pure, unadulterated Delta Blues by a long chalk – even without a backing band Dave Arcari can make a big noise with just his trusty National Steel as company; this music owes as much to the second wave of Punk in London Town as it does to the pre-War Mississippi Delta.
Thankfully, very little on “Whisky in my Blood” is as aggressive or challenging as on previous recordings; but that’s not to say See Me Laughing and Jitterbug Swing won’t be cranked up to 11 when played live and leave revellers with no choice but pogo like it’s 1979 again.
Day Job only lasts a minute and a half but Arcari still manages to pack in a powerful message and more energy than Coldplay manage in a whole album and his National Steel guitar is left gasping for breath at the end of each song.
If someone told you that Heat is Rising was a long lost Delta Blues tune found in the back of Alan Lomax’s wardrobe many fans would nod sagely; but it wasn’t – it’s brand new and pays homage to the music Arcari grew up listening to and still loves passionately today; but has the hallmarks of becoming a classic in its own right.
The album ends the only way Arcari knows; a potent foot-stomper that brings out the best and worst in his Scottish accent; especially on the chorus ‘get outta my way/I’m here to stay’ and; he most certainly is.
Blue Noise Records BNCD012