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.
Wily Bo Walker TALES OF THE MESCAL CANYON TROUBADOURS Voodooville
Swish, Swagger and a Staggering Blend of Southern Fried Blues.
It’s really hard to keep up with Wily Bo Walker’s releases; with re-mixes and re-hashes mingling and supplementing brand new songs at will and that’s what we appear to have here; but I do like a challenge! But; and it’s not even a very big ‘but’ even if you have heard some of the previous versions of his songs on earlier albums; the new ones are always as interesting as they are exciting, so yet again I’m treating this as a shiny new release in all its swish and swaggering glory. Technically TALES OF THE MESCAL CANYON TROUBADOURS is a companion album to last year’s Ain’t No Man a Good Man with Danny Flam, but you don’t need to have heard that to understand and fall in love with this; but it wouldn’t do you any harm to own both albums. While still eschewing his love for New Orleans and Tex-Mex inspired Blues, I swear Wily Bo has been listening to the same Surf albums as me recently; as opening track, Drive (Mescalito Mix) certainly has that ‘fuzzy’ Dick Dale feel as the bass and drums pump more adrenaline than a teenage boy on a promise! This is obviously more ‘obvious’ on Jawbreaker (Surf-O-Rama) which sounds just perfect for a Tarantino remake of Point Break (or Aloha Hawaii?). There must be someone that Wily Bo reminds me of; but I can’t for the life of me think of any singer that sounds this seductive, yet dirty at the same time (Zappa circa Hot Rats? A young Tom Waits? ) and he just oozes Rakishness on Walk in Chinese Footsteps (Bardo Thodol Mix) and even more so, later on the sleazy Who’s Lovin’ You Tonight which will send a shiver down the back of wives everywhere. Wily Bo’s love of all things Mexicana stretches way beyond the artwork (which is rather wonderful in it’s own rite) but comes across rather subtly in the rather shady and inspired Time to Forget (Bourbon & Candlelight Mix) which is brimful of smoky atmosphere and superb guitar from the dirty end of the fretboard. Two song title certainly ring bells for me; but I hardly recognised either Chattahoochee Coochee Man (Southern Slide) or album closer Moon Over Indigo in these guises; but that’s the beauty of having someone like Wily Bo Walker at the helm; there’s always something he can add or subtract to make a thing of beauty even better. There’s always a cinematic or theatrical feel to the sequencing on Walker’s albums; it’s as if he’s trying to tell a story through music and words; but without the added weight of calling it a Rock Opera; which loosely brings me to the two songs I’m struggling to decide which is most worthy of the accolade, RMHQ Favourite Song. Velvet Windows is a whole new direction with a staggering blending between electric and steel-guitar (a Resonator?) that sounds as if it’s been dug up by Music Archaeologists and given a new lease of life. The other actually precedes it; and I think I’m now erring towards For The Children (When The Nightmares Call) whose title instantly attracted me when I first received the album; and actually lives up to such a bewildering title; with Walker slowing things down to a cracked croon on a song ‘with a message’; which I’m not going to spoil for you. Wily Bo Walker is another one of those acts that baffles me as to why they aren’t filling Concert Halls across the world and headlining TV Shows too; but until justice is done; you and I both know he’s the real deal whatever guise he’s taking with his music.
John Fusco & The X-Road Riders JOHN THE REVELATOR Checkerboard Lounge Records
A Sad Case of The Blues With a Cinematic Americana Heart.
I’m not even sure where to start here. John Fusco? Famed movie Director (Crossroads AND Highwaymen!), all round renaissance man and creator of one of our Favourite Albums of the last few years; and here he is again …….. back in the swamps, alongside his star-studded friends. I’m not normally a lover of Double Albums, but here Fusco splits the two perfectly with the first being a looser vibe; with plenty of room to groove and sway; as well as listen to Fusco’s wise and often prescient words; whereas the second album takes a deeper and more contemplative direction. In Bluesland John the Revelator is a classic tune; yet I only own one version and I can’t even remember who by, as it’s on a Various Artist CD …….. but I do love it; and it was a regular on my old radio programme ……. usually played when things were going to sweetly. Which is a fair description of Fusco’s red raw version that opens the first side of this staggering Double Album of largely self-penned songs; that sound as if they were all unearthed in a cellar that hasn’t seen daylight since Katrina hit. You can read elsewhere who plays what on these songs; but trust me ……. everyone involved is already in your record collection. When I first heard Bone Deep I could have sworn I already knew it; but no …… it’s brand new; yet Fusco’s Hammond B3 playing and Ronnie Klinsberg’s ‘Blues Wailing’ harmonica are as timeless as you will hear this century. It’s a similar feeling with the slow and ‘ornery Bad Dog and Snake Oil Man that sounds like Randy Newman after a night on the ‘shine! Sometimes I listen to ‘hard’ to albums as I review them; and occasionally miss the bleeding obvious! The theme of ‘love’ is the golden thread that weaves throughout this album; sometimes happy sometimes sad and more often than not …….. love for love’s sake; which is where Applejack Brandy fits in perfectly well; and it’s lifted to amazing heights by the addition of Patrick Ross’s staggering fiddle playing too. Ooh …….. choosing a Favourite on Album #1 isn’t easy at all; especially when the standard is so high; but I’ve now whittled it down to a choice between two ……… the racy duet with Sarah Morrow, Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing and Ophelia (I Feel Ya) which I guess is a homage to The Band or more especially Levon Helm; but I guess I’m going for the former tonight …… but that will change next time I play the album. Album #2 was recorded ‘Up North’ in Burlington, Vermont as opposed to Memphis; and that sort of lends itself to the darker and possibly even deeper songs here. Starting with Song For Peter, the mood is certainly a lot more intense, the electric guitar and Hammond B3 creating a ghostly atmosphere on a tragically beautiful story. There’s even a hint of a claustrophobia on several tracks; starting with Jacqueline and continuing through The Sun Also Rises; you know …… the type that cloys the air and prefaces a storm; which is also the best way to describe Fools Fire, too. As I’ve said many times before; The Blues comes in many hues and John Fusco has a musical pallet full of them all. On Language of Angels Patrick Ross’s fiddle playing adds a Celtic Green to a tearjerker of a melancholic ballad; and later on Motel Laws of Arizona the band tread a Country path that normally only eagles dare tread. In between there are slightly lighter shades in the pictures Fusco paints with his majestic words on the beautiful Moonstone Lady and Good Money After Bad; which has all the hallmarks of Little Feat at the finest. Here one song in particular stands out head and shoulders above all others; Hottest Part of the Flame conjures up all kinds of imagery in Fusco’s words; and the way the band come together in all their pomp and glory, while never even threatening to overshadow the singer has to be heard to be believed ……. trust me; I know these things. (#wink) While I’d read a few snippets about this release on Social Media; genuinely nothing has prepared me for the quality in every single track; from Fusco’s words, the bands’ exemplary playing and his deep, dark and expressive voice.
As regular readers already know, I still put a lot of stock in an album’s cover artwork; ‘pretending’ I’m flicking through the racks of a record store looking for something new and interesting …… would that be true, this album would certainly have stopped me in my tracks. Then as Cummings’ Memphis Soul inspired version of Hold On (I’m Coming) was less than a minute old I would be thrusting my hard earned cash at the shop assistant……. then running hot foot to the car to hear the rest of the album. Okay, we’ve heard most of these songs before and to some extent we’ve heard Cummings style of singing and guitar playing before, but …….. and it’s a big BUT ……. we ain’t ever heard them combined in this funky, kick-ass way ever, ever, EVER! Do What Mama Says, which follows at first sounds like the Rev’d Green fronting Them; but it really doesn’t as Albert blends his Gospel Roots with some mighty fine Juke Joint Blues to give us something very special indeed. Does the world need another version of Red Rooster or My Babe or even Van the Man’s Crazy Love? A week ago I would have just rolled my eyes; but today each of these ‘Classics’ have become shiny Tour de Force’s that will make you forget that they aren’t 21st Century Contemporary grooves. I’ve been a fan of ‘The Blues’ for nearly half a century now; and it amazes me still that the likes of Albert Cummings still have the power to amaze and stun in equal measures; with his staggering guitar playing on the instrumental Call Me Crazy and his ornery Country Blues song It’s All Good making me wonder why I’ve never heard of him before. Over the last week nearly every song here has been a contender at one time or another for the title of Favourite Track (especially Red Rooster); but Queen of Mean somehow manages to outshine all others, with the glorious harmonies, funky beat and Cummings singing as if his life depends on it (and it just might when you listen to the lyrics!) Albert Cummings ticks all of the boxes I have for buying Blues album; and when I played it to my eldest brother we got into a heated discussion of how good and innovative his guitar playing really is, which brings me to the outstanding finale, Me & My Guitar which sees the guitarist shifting gears yet again playing chords from what my Big Brother calls ‘the dirty end’ of the guitar; but no; I’m sticking with my first choice of Favourite Track ….. for now. Ultimately I will leave it to you to decide of course; but if you are a fan of BB King, SRV, Albert Collins or Eric Clapton ……. I’ll take it personally if you don’t fall in love with this album.
Janiva Magness Change in The Weather Blue Elan Records
Simply Stunning Re-Inventions of The Original Sound of Americana.
I’ve always thought of myself as a Creedence Clearwater Revival fan; but with hindsight, owning a worn and tatty copy of Creedence Gold doesn’t make me #1 does it? But I am a real fan of Janiva Magness and got really excited a couple of months ago when it was announced that she was doing an album of CCR and John Fogerty songs. The time flew by ……. nada……. but I’ve finally received a copy ……. a week after release! Hey ho. Without doing a ‘compare and contrast’ with the original versions because a) this is Janiva putting her own unmistakable stamp on the songs; and b) I don’t actually recognise very many songs anyways! The bouncy and provocative title track Change in The Weather starts the album like a UXB……. fizzing and smoking and very, very menacing. Janiva makes it work on many levels, most notably because of Fogerty’s very apt words virtually forecast ‘climate change’ but on a metaphorical stance, it could also describe the incendiary political climate around the world too. Ms. Magness’ smoky voice sounds fabulous duetting with Sam Morrow on the Touring Musician’s anthem Lodi, which follows and I swear you can almost smell the magnolia and gumbo as the band give it a groove that will have you swishing and sashaying in the kitchen. While it’s fair to say this is first and foremost a Janiva Magness album; boy does she bring out the best in John Fogerty’s much undervalued songwriting; and when you hear the magnificent twists and turns on Deja Vu (All Over Again) and/or Wrote a Song For Everyone you are hearing a great singer doing an even greater songwriter justice; and feel the time is right for a full on John Fogerty retrospective. There a couple of CCR Classics here too (of course!), with the passion still oozing out of every word in Fortunate Son even though it was written half a century ago; and somehow Janiva breaths brand new life into Bad Moon Rising making it even more sensual than the original; and the way she interprates Have You Ever Seen The Rain will send a shiver down your back. Not that it needs it; but there’s another Guest Appearance with none other than Taj Mahal adding banjo and scintillating vocals to Don’t You Wish It Was True, making it sound like it was recorded on an Alabama back porch; but destined to be sung in concert halls all around the world. With so much going on here, and with every song certainly being worthy of inclusion (All killer – no filler!) selecting a single song as the RMHQ Favourite certainly hasn’t been easy; especially as I’ve only had three damp and grey Autumn days to let this seep into my Soul; but one song has certainly caught my attention; and shows what a magnificent singer is; and that’s when she unleashes her inner Bobbie Gentry on the stifling A Hundred and Ten In The Shade, and of course the detail in Fogerty’s words about life in the cotton fields are quite amazing too ……… “Poppa won’t you carry me Handle so hot I can’t stand it Might shrivel up and blow away Noon day sun make you crazy Least that’s the old man say Bottom land hard as a gravestone Couldn’t cut it with an axe Gonna lay me down here, that’s a fact.” Then the album is all wrapped up with the gloriously toe-tappin’ Lookin’ Out My Back Door, which features not just Rusty Young but Jesse Dayton and Aubrey Richmond; who makes his fiddle sizzle and smoke …… what’s not to like? It’s now fair to say that my initial excitement all those weeks ago have been truly justified, and the only gripe I have is that this Soundtrack to Summer is released in September (which feels like Winter today) and not June. That apart; this is a musical marriage made in Heaven; and yes a John Fogerty and CCR resurgence is long overdue.
Seth James Good Life Bismeaux Records/Cherry Bomb Records
Devilishly Bodacious Texas R&B With a Side-Order of Southern Soul.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks and new music has been on the back burner; with my tried and trusted CD Collection getting me through, so I was ready for something fresh and interesting on Sunday night. Sadly the first few albums I dipped into left me disenchanted, then along came Seth Jame’s opening track Brother. Ooohheee ….. let the good times roll! A James’ ‘twinkle in the eye’ singing style, accompanied by some rinky-dink pub piano, fizzing guitars, devilishly angelic harmonies and a brass section that sounds like they should be at a New Orleans’ funeral! Yes sir ….. this is what I needed; and four days later it’s still hogging the stereo. It looks like James has been around the Texas club scene for quite a while now; and that solid apprenticeship pays off on the tightly wrapped The Time I Love You The Most and Medicine Man as both sound like a dalliance between Bonnie Raitt and Doug Sahm with the Mavericks playing in the background. I guess this will be filed under ‘Blues’ in most record stores and on streaming sites; but there is so much more than that here; as you’d expect from a band who plays Honky-Tonks on Monday and Tuesday nights ……. Seth James can turn his hand to most parts of Americana; adding Soul, Rhythm & Blues and even hints of Urban Country into Third Generation, From Way Behind and the most bodacious Ain’t What You Eat But The Way How You Chew It! Some songs here are brand new like the title track Good Life; but a couple have also been allowed to develop over the last 10 years or so until now; when James was ready to spring the deep down and Soulful I’m Coming Home onto an unsuspecting world; and the time is just right for a song that is equal parts Al Green, Chet Atkins and Charly Pride ……. I urge you to listen with care; it;s a real heartbreaker. There’s absolutely nothing to dislike here; no filler at all, making choosing a Favourite Song supremely difficult. Should I go for the dark and menacing Get Outside? Or the glorious love song Little Angel; especially because of the stomping and wheezing electric organ and swinging horn section that makes it an extraordinary few minutes. Then of course there’s the slow and sleazy Country Blues of I Am The Storm which closes the album with James pining his heart out while playing a Resonator Guitar; but I can’t resist the Otis influenced That’s How You Do It, which is a sure fire dancefloor filler; which takes the Grand Title against some heavyweight contenders. I’ve found this a very easy album to play; but I have an open mind when it comes to music; and if you have too then you are going to love discovering Seth James.
Mr Bobby Rush Sitting on Top of The World Deep Rush Records/Thirty Tigers
Blurring the Danceable and SeductiveLines Between Blues and Soul
As a ‘Soulboy’ in the 1970’s and early 80’s I was very aware of Mr Bobby Rush, because a couple of songs from the Rush Hour LP were floor-fillers in one of the clubs I frequented; but in those days it was virtually impossible to buy any of his LP’s; so he has retained almost mythical status in the UK. Jump forward 30+ years and I nearly choked on my Rice Krispies when I received the fabulous Porcupine Meat album two years ago; and on the back of that Grammy Winning success here’s the deserved follow up. Starting with the self-aggrandising Hey Hey Bobby Rush I had the feeling that this album was going to be a lot less polished than Porcupine Meat, and more akin to a Live Show, and I think that’s a fair assessment; as this song and most of what follows has that frisson of excitement and sharpness that comes from just having one go at getting it right. With hindsight that’s probably more down to Scott Billington and Vasti Jackson’s razor sharp production …… there ain’t no fat on any of these songs. For a man of his indeterminable age, Bobby Rush knows how to charm the ladies; and on the low down Recipe For Love he gives us young ‘uns an intro into his wisdom and on the dancelicious Shake (til’ you get enough) and album closer the raunchy Bowlegged Woman not a lot is left to the imagination ……… and it will have you singing along with the rambunctious chorus wherever you are, be it the bedroom or the kitchen! I can’t vouch for the quality of songs on his first 24 studio albums, but the songs here just ooze class ………. with the sweet as molasses You Got the Goods On You and Sweet Lizzy transcending Rush’s Chitlin’ Circuit by being modern Soul Classics in my humble opinion. I actually hated one song the first few times I heard it as Pooky Poo just seemed ‘twee’ but the more it unfolds it’s a top quality love song to and about the one love in his life …….. although Mrs Magpie baulks when I call her my Pooky Poo! I keep harking back to the word ‘classy’ when I describe the songs here; and there’s no better word to describe the two contenders for RMHQ Favourite Song status; on the ‘Midnight Soul’ of Slow Motion Bobby goes deep into Barry White and Marvin Gaye territory and creates a song just perfect for turning the lights down low and needing a preamble to a night of luuuuurve! Rush’s famed harmonica playing is a feature throughout SITTING ON TOP OF THE BLUES, but never sounds finer than on this track when he sounds like it’s a metaphor for something I can’t find the words to describe. The actual winner of the Favourite Track award is track #2 Good Stuff which is a red hot and sweaty love song that you can either seduce to, dance to or make love to …… it will work just as well in all scenarios. Perhaps Mr Bobby Rush ‘peaked’ commercially with Porcupine Meat; but for me SITTING ON TOP OF THE BLUES is more of an album that represents the music both he and I have loved for all these years as he blurs the lines between Blues and Soul.
This Lady Really Can Sing The Blues, Especially The Low Down Soulful Kind.
Tullie Brae? I’m sure I once stayed at a B&B thereon a trip around North Scotland! (*That’s a joke btw) This Tullie Brae comes from Louisiana; and it appears The Blues don’t just run through her blood but is fixed tightly deep in her DNA. YIKES! The opening chords to track #1 Price of the Blues will scare a biker gang; and when Ms. Brae takes a deep breath and releases enough venom to stop a bull elephant on this striking tale of domestic abuse; told from the viewpoint of a neighbour.I’m not giving anything away if I tell you it’s a song of Biblical style retribution and redemption. What a way to start an album; and mercifully Tullie allows us to catch our collective breath with the swampy Gospel infused Seven Bridges which follows afterwards; but to say there’s passion in her voice and the way the band swoop in behind her, would be a massive understatement. I don’t know if they have a name; but the band here are as tight as a duck’s bum; but first and foremost this is Tullie Brae’s showpiece album, with all 10 songs coming from her own pen; and she certainly knows how to catch the listeners attention; on New Shoes she compares her new relationship to said footwear – and I ain’t ever heard that comparison before! Then with the funkilicious Watch Her Move she picks up the mantle for feisty women everywhere; especially Single Mothers; and it’s fair to say that in my younger days the women Tullie describes used to scare the pants off me (literally and figuratively!) There’s no real surprise in discovering that love in all its shapes and sizes figures prominently on this ace album; with the sublime Mississippi Rain (starring Ms Brae playing some classy slide guitar) she captures the sultry atmosphere quite perfectly on a song of lost love that never leaves her memory; and on Ain’t No Good she goes deep into Beth Hart territory and comes out the other side unscathed; and in another life Shine would have been a crossover ‘Power Ballad’ and a huge Worldwide Hit; then the singer closes her album with the charming Thank You Mom; which she carefully steers away from being too twee. Then there is the footstompin’ raggedy Delta Blues of Devil in Deville; which is not only a thrill a minute tale of temptation and sin; but shows what an amazing guitarist and singer Tullie Brae is; and therefore becomes the RMHQ Favourite Song here with ease. I have no idea where Tullie Brae and her magnificent band sit in the American Blues World; but I’ve heard a helluva lot worse from much bigger names in the last few years; and very very few better Blues Albums from anyone out there; be they male, female or other.
Will Kimbrough I Like It Down Here Daphne Records/Soundly Music
Songs of The South in All It’s Poetic and Ragged Glory.
Regardless of the content, I’m always going to like a Will Kimbrough album, that’s just how I roll. As per usual I’d played this disc three times before I got around to reading the Press Release, and I’m glad I did…….. as it got to join some very oblique dots for me. First and foremost I never knew Kimbrough was from Alabama, and Lower Alabama at that; but you actually need to know that detail to ‘buy into’ this ‘Love Letter and Prayer to The South’ as he quaintly describes his beautifully motley collection of heartfelt songs. The shimmering opening track Hey Trouble is a good ole fashioned ‘bad luck’ Blues song wrapped up in an Americana melody and chock full of Kimbrough’s trademark guitar licks. What’s not to like? But….. put your emotional seat-belt on for what is to follow. The title track I Like It Down Here follows with the opening stanza confirming the theme of what this album is generally about, “She asked me when’s the bad luck stop When do we rise to the top? It’s awful hard work pulling up the rear.” It’s actually a love song of sorts; and one of those songs that will stick in the memory bank for years; coming back to haunt you when you least expect it. There’s so much going on in Will Kimbrough’s professional life, that he didn’t need to write and record a solo album; but with so much happening politically and socially in his beloved South and especially his home State of Alabama he appears to have got the itch to write about things in his very own and deeply personal manner, going back to his Roots basically. Oddly enough this gives him the opportunity to drop musical surprises, with the jaunty I’m Not Running Away, the Soulful – When I Get To Memphis, the thoughtful – Star, and indeed the wistful in Saltwater & Sand which I’d never have really expected in advance. On any other album his two Southern Blues Deluxe tracks, Buddha Blues and It’s a Sin would truly be deemed exceptional, with the latter starting with the gut-wrenching lines: “Innocent babies come into this world Singing their little hearts out Daddy says it’s a sin …… to kill Mockingbirds I have no reason to doubt”
Attach those stinging words to a a pleading singer and funereal paced N’Orleans melody and you have a song that will break every heart that hears it. But…….takes a deep breath….. there’s also a song here that is probably the cornerstone to this very record, with everything else depending on it’s unyielding power to allow them to breathe on their own. I feel guilty calling Alabama (For *Michael Donald) my Favourite Song here; because it’s much, much more than that. As you do when you first play an album the songs drift in and out of your consciousness but not this one…… phew, Kimbrough’s words and this horrible true story knocked me sideways immediatly. I don’t intend spoiling anything for you, but you simply MUST LISTEN to this song; it just might change your life a little bit. If Will Kimbrough had only ever written and created this one song, he could still die a happy and proud man indeed. When you check out the credits you will see a myriad of Guest Vocalists that are household names; but ignore that……. this is very much Will Kimbrough’s career defining album and his alone. I come from a mining village in NW Durham whose ‘reputation precedes it’ in our region; but it’s my homeland and I’m therefore allowed to openly criticise it….. but God Help anyone else who does; and that’s how this special songwriter and storyteller shows his love for his own Homeland ….. he’s allowed to tell it how it is, warts and all.
Shane Dwight No One Loves Me Better Red Parlor Records
Southern Rock With a Hefty Dash of Blues and Country.
There’s no special formula when it comes to choosing albums to review, and it can sometimes be a minefield; especially when I don’t recognise any of the names in the pile. In this particular case it wasn’t the fairly interesting artwork that caught my attention; but the guy’s name ….. Shane Dwight. It sort of sounded like a character from the TV series Nashville to my addled mind; and as if by magic Shane’s fascinating Southern Rocking Country/Blues hybrid could easily have fit into that show just perfectly. The title track No One Loves Me Better kick-starts the album like turning the key in a new Porsche Boxster…… a delightful rumble that foretells a classy ride is in store, preferably with the top down. Dwight has a ‘worn around the edges’ sound to it; and the glorious female backing vocalists coupled to some cool rolling piano and guitar that accompanies Dwight sounds like it could all have been appropriated from Muscle Shoals back in it’s heyday, as opposed to Kevin McKendree’s studio in Franklin, TN. Dwight wears his influences proudly as he throws caution to the wind on the Roadhouse boogie of Stand Up and on If You Ain’t The Devil he gets low down and dirty in a way that makes you feel all hot and sweaty. Even though it’s all too easy to just sit back and wallow in Dwight’s demonstrative and expressive voice; there’s a lot going in both the background of his songs but the detail in his fairly edgy subject matter too. While most songs will be most at home when played out in full, in concert there’s more than enough to enthrall the listener at home or in the car when you hear Levy Girl, She Likes to Ride and the awesome Sucker, with it’s nod in the direction of Bozz Scaggs, but with a Hip-Hop beat. I’ve been torn between two entirely different songs for my title of Favourite Song; Trial of a Poet is a very modern twist on traditional Country Blues and features some sizzling Resonator guitar as Bekka Bramlett wails like a haunting siren in the background. The other is a straight up ‘cheating’ Country Rocker; Bullets & Gasoline; but the way Dwight and the band pull it together makes it rather special indeed and is sure to be concert closer supreme! It appears Shane Dwight has been around the American Blues scene for a decade or so; but this album so classy and well constructed I think the time is right for him to break out into the rest of the World; which will welcome him with open arms.