Monday, January 27, 2020

Ben Poole - Trio - Live '19

The journey towards maturity of Ben Poole continues.  I’d like to be able to report that with Trio – Live ’19 he has at last emerged definitively into the sunlit uplands, but that would be pushing it.  However in partnership with drummer Wayne Proctor and bassist Steve Amadeo – and you’d better believe that’s pretty good hired help – he does bank some worthwhile credit with this live album, sharp looking cover and all.
After warming up with a couple of stolid numbers that could’ve done with a few more beats per minute, the rubber really hits the road courtesy of Jude Cole’s 80s hit ‘Start The Car’, a catchy affair which has plenty of zip as Proctor knocks out a snappy groove and Poole delivers some fizzing guitar licks.
Watch you don't fall there, Ben!
Pic by Robert Sutton
But they really get cracking in the middle of the set, kicking off with ‘The Question Why’which opens in slick, soulful fashion, with a snazzy bass line from Amadeo, before its appealing melody kicks in.  There’s sparky guitar work from Poole, and as he gets into a second solo Proctor’s drums propel matters with a sense of urgency.  ‘Further On Down The Line’ is a well-constructed tune that throbs along nicely with Proctor playing just behind the beat and Poole piquing interest with a squelchy, fuzzy guitar tone.  Then ‘Don’t Cry For Me’ makes a bid for pièce de resistance status, a slowie that makes effective use of Poole’s vulnerable, quavery vocal.  It’s a good tune, and Poole deploys an intriguingly wobbly guitar tone on an excellent, pinpoint guitar solo before shifting gear satisfyingly, not going overboard and lent top drawer underpinning by Proctor and Amadeo.
I’m not sure they ever reclaim those heights, though ‘Lying To Me’ does maintain the momentum, with tough, slightly discordant riffing and a nifty, tumble-turning bridge ahead of a brief solo.  ‘I Think I Love You Too Much’ is melodically slight, but benefits from sprightly opening guitar licks over a rock solid groove featuring rich, bubbling bass, and an assertive second guitar solo.  On ‘Found Out The Hard Way’ Poole’s light voice never manages to communicate real emotional depth, sounding more like a teenager with a petted lip than a grown man in a dark place.  But the middle eight gives it a lift, and Poole delivers an impressive, piercing solo improvising around the melody.  Then they regroup more convincingly with the offbeat rhythm and punchy riff of ‘Stay At Mine’, exploring funkier terrain that would have benefited from a more resounding ‘let it rip’ conclusion.
Ben Poole - same to you mate!
Pic by Gernot Mangold
But sometimes when Poole spreads himself, as he likes to do, more focus is required.  His brittle-toned solo guitar intro to ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’ rambles on for a good four and a half minutes, taking in the first verse, before Proctor and Amadeo arrive on the scene, and more minutes go by before it rouses itself to something wirier and emphatic.  ‘Anytime You Need Me’ is better, setting off on a strutting beat and resonant riff, with a spiky little solo and some spitfire vocals, before they take it down for Amadeo to deliver a restrained and arresting, guttural-toned bass showcase. But boy do they take an age to climb out of that to a sinewy crescendo - throwing a few sharp combinations to end the round, in boxing parlance, would have more impact.
The closing ‘Time Might Never Come’ is overlong too at fifteen minutes plus, but I’ll given them the benefit of the doubt this time.  Slow and reflective, it aspires to a John Mayer-like intensity at times, as an aching, dramatic solo builds to passages of scrabbling fretwork then strung-out notes, before the vocals re-enter to the accompaniment of ringing chords.  Quite why they then choose to tack on a meandering coda is beyond me, though.
Listening to Live – Trio ’19, I still think Ben Poole has work to do to build a stronger repertoire of songs, with a definitive voice, that will produce a real breakthrough.  That breakthrough may have eluded him here, but there are enough positives to suggest that if he keeps working at his craft, keeps polishing, then one fine morning he may find he’s arrived.

Trio - Live '19 is released on 31 January.  Ben Poole starts his British tour the same night - look here for details of all dates.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Gary Moore - Live From London

I daresay there will be lots of hard core Gary Moore fans salivating at the prospect of a firework display of axemanship from yer man, courtesy of this previously unreleased live recording from the Islington Academy in 2009.  Me?  What I want to hear is the kind of freewheeling ease and blues feeling that was evident on Moore’s first blues outing, Still Got The Blues – an album that was a real attention-grabber for me.  Suffice to say there’s enough happening on Live From London to satisfy both constituencies.
Gary Moore in characteristically chilled performing mode
Balance is the key.  There’s a cracking stretch in the second half of the set where Moore spreads out on Donny Hathaway’s soulful slowie ‘I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know’,
breezes through ‘Too Tired’, hits the bullseye with the restrained ‘Still Got The Blues’ (my all-time favourite GM track), and then coasts merrily through ‘Walking By Myself’, throughout all of which I’m a veritable happy bunny.
‘I Love You More . . .’ is a real highlight, as delicate as it gets, with long organ chords from Vic Martin providing the foundation for a vocal delivered with real feeling, and an excellent slow guitar solo.  ‘Still Got The Blues’ is even better in the slow blues stakes, with a great melody and a lovely guitar refrain, and ultimately a wonderful solo that communicates emotionally.  In between, ‘Too Tired’ is simply good fun, with bobbing bass from Peter Rees, and a playful guitar/organ passage (even if here, as in other places, Vic Martin’s organ sound is distractingly trebly to my ears), while they swagger along with the stop-time riff ‘Walking By Myself’, Martin adding piano on this occasion and Moore knocking out some of his best nimble-fingered fretwork.  All of this is a real purple patch, and the following ‘The Blues Is Alright’ ain’t too shabby either.
There’s a similar hot spell earlier in proceedings, even if it doesn’t quite reach these heights.  ‘Since I Met You Baby’ has a stop-start riff on the verses, and a swinging chorus, plus some scorching soloing from the main man – raw, varied, and high on entertainment value.  John Mayall’s ‘Have You Heard’ is a slowish affair that could do with more dynamics on the volume front, but features satisfyingly diverse guitar work – some typical breakneck licks to be sure, but also slow segments and long, sustained notes.  Then ‘All Your Love’, the Otis Rush classic captured by the Bluesbreakers on the Beano album, kicks off with a quiet, twinkling intro before Moore cranks out its distinctive riff and goes on to deliver it with admirable moments of subtlety.
Across the piece, right from the punchy opener ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ to the closing ‘Parisienne Walkways’, the rhythm section of Rees on bass and drummer Steve Dixon keep things rock solid.  And while that periodically plinky-plonk tone of Vic Martin’s keys may get on my wick, he still provides a suitable foil for Moore’s guitar, especially with the deeper, long chords on the likes of ‘Have You Heard’.
Personally I could live without ‘Parisienne Walkways’, a song I’ve always found overrated, but I guess that’s a minority view, and Moore certainly gives it some oomph with a big, dramatic solo.
When Gary Moore returned to his roots with Still Got The Blues it sounded to me like he’d finally found the key to the highway, after all his previous musical peregrinations.  Recorded 14 months before his untimely death, this performance shows that he could still wrangle a fretboard in the manner guitar freaks will adore.  But more importantly, the sound of Live From London is that of an artist who still knew just why he played the blues.

Live From London is released by Provogue Records on 31 January.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado - Come On In

“Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination,” said Vincent van Gogh.  “Do not become the slave of your model.”
Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado have probably never come across old Vincent’s advice, but I reckon they’ve observed the sentiment anyway with the creation of Come On In.  Because this is an album that respects their blues roots and inspirations, but dares to deliver songs and arrangements that are mouth-wateringly fresh.  And in doing so it sets a dizzyingly high standard for new blues releases in 2020.
"Oi - Thorbjørn! Stop posing and get your round in!"
Pic by Christoffer Askman
The opening title track sets the tone.  The lyrics may give a nod and a wink to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘The House Is Rocking’, but the delivery takes a different tack.  A pulsing drum beat sets things in motion, locked into a subdued guitar riff, generating a near motorik feel that’s then augmented by some boinging bass and occasional twangs of ghostly guitar.  “There’s a jukebox over in the corner playin’,” sings Thorbjørn Risager in that rumbling bass voice. “Won’t you come on in?”  Hell yes, that’s what I say!
Acoustic guitar figures heavily in some of the songs, notably the elegiac ‘Two Lovers’, which opens with some simple acoustic strumming, which is then joined by spare, haunted slide guitar notes from Joachim Svensmark and a slow, sombre beat.  More textures are added by hints of wood block, deep bass, and smatterings of horns and organ, creating the kind of noir-ish cinematic experience they’ve previously mastered with their cover of the Fifties film theme ‘China Gate’.  And they summon up a reflective romantic mood with ‘On And On’, all halting guitar, plangent horns and sparse chimes of piano.
The opening verse of ‘Never Givin’ In’ also leans on nothing more than an acoustic guitar motif and Risager’s expressive voice, before Martin Seidelin’s percussion – bongos, perhaps? – brings a quickening rhythm.  It nags at you like an itch you can’t scratch, and is embellished by a moody bridge, with low moaning horns and more spooky guitar that has the feel of a plaintive harp.  ‘Sin City’ has more old-time sensibilities, with acoustic picking and a simple, muffled beat supporting an archetypal blues melody, before an outro that centres on a repeated phrase from Peter Kehl’s muted trumpet.  The closing ‘I’ll Be Gone’ is in a similar vein, all acoustic strumming and picking of a classic blues riff, with squeaks of electric guitar for emphasis.
The Black Tornado can still whip up a storm though.  ‘Last Train’ may start off with chugs of acoustic guitar over handclap-like percussion, but it lifts off when the drums kick in, with guitar hitting stinging chord sequences and notes as the horns offer support in the background.  ‘Over The Hill’ goes back to Risager’s early influences, swinging like BB King with its walking bass, glittering guitar fills and bursts of horns, and what once upon a time they might have called a ‘hot’ sax solo.  “Good times comin’ my way,” sings Thorbjørn, and he ain’t kidding.  Best of all in this vein, there’s ‘Love So Fine’, with its urgent, crunching guitar riff over the propulsive rhythm section of Seidelin and bassist Søren Bøjgaard.  It could almost be ZZ Top with added horns, not least because of Risager’s voice as he drawls away like Billy Gibbons, while Svensmark adds a cracking guitar solo as the cherry on the cake.
They even have room to get vaguely Latin with ‘Nobody But The Moon’, with a Hispanic-leaning descending guitar riff over what sounds to these untutored ears like a salsa rhythm conjured up by the bubbling bass and drums, leading to an aching chorus.
Risager has said that some of the songs reflect some uncertainty about where he is in his life, but also an assertive and defiant response, and those themes are certainly apparent on the likes of ‘Never Givin’ In’ and ‘Sin City’.  Me, I have no doubts.  With Come On In Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado have reaffirmed their status as torchbearers of modern blues.

Come On In is released by Ruf Records on 31 January 2020.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Listened to lately - Southern Avenue, and Ghost Town Blues Band

It’s time to catch up with the 2019 album releases from a couple of Memphis-based bands, which one way or another I never got round to covering last year.

Southern Avenue – Keep On

Voices.  That’s where to focus first of all when you listen to this second album from Southern Avenue.  Because lead vocalist Tierinii Jackson and her drumming sis Tikyra dish up some of the most sublime soul vocals you’re likely to encounter in this day and age.  That’s not all
that Southern Avenue have to offer, but oh mama it’s a helluva trump card.
The vocal quality is probably most obvious on the dreamy soul ballads ‘Savior’ and ‘We’re
Southern Avenue - cool threads gang!
Pic by David McClister
Gonna Make It’, both of which feature the combination of the Jackson sisters’ voices in luscious harmonies.  The former features a delicious vocal-dominated outro, and demonstrates their willingness to shrug off typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-solo etc song structures. amd the latter serving up a delicate, bluesy guitar solo.  The latter is a gospel-tinged closer, sporting an affirmative lyric and a delicate, bluesy guitar solo from Ori Naftaly.
But they can funk it up too.  There’s the tickling riff and sparse rhythm section of ‘Whiskey Love’; the twitchiness of ‘Jive’ with its spiky guitar line, its upbeat sax break that adds seasoning, and Tierinii’s soaring vocal notes; and best of all ‘Switchup’, which sounds like a James Brown track sung by Aretha Franklin.
The do straighter soul well too, as on the opening title track with its sophisticated rhythm, its shifts from ripples of guitar to toots of horns and the swirl of Jeremy Powell’s organ, and a divine Tierinii vocal that peaks with a startling high note.  Or on ‘Too Good For You’, where a skipping rhythm, smooth swells of horns create a sweet soul groove that gets jaunty over repeated “Bye byes”, ahead of a brief and understated piano-guitar interlude.
The other highlight though, is the bump’n’grind of ‘She Gets Me High’, a frank description of how, when things go wrong with her man, the protagonist is more than happy to get some sexual healing from her girlfriend.  The horns double up on a neat guitar line over a steady beat, and after a nifty little bridge a piercing Naftaly solo leads towards a more urgent, er, climax.
Now and then I reckon Naftaly’s guitar and Powell’s keys could be given more prominence, to complement the plentiful vocal pleasures and lend a bit more oomph to a couple of rather slight songs.  But Keep On does more than enough to ensure that Southern Avenue stand out from the herd.  And they can do it live too, where Tierinii Jackson shows off firecracker performance levels.  Little wonder they’ve picked up Blues Music Award nominations for Band Of The Year and Best Soul-Blues Album.

Keep On was released on Concord Records in May 2019.

Ghost Town Blues Band – Shine

I’ve had a soft spot for GTBB since encountering them live in the Rum Boogie Café in Beale Street, while holidaying down the Mississippi.  Their combination of rhythmic blues and horn-infused Stax soul, with occasional injections of cigar box guitar from front man Matt Isbell, was delivered with wit and a sense of fun, and was right up my street.
Listening to their latest album Shine, I get the impression they’ve been broadening their horizons a bit.  They can still serve up a warm Southern vibe, as on the opener ‘Running Out Of Time’, with its light, loping riff complemented by horns, its rootsy slide guitar fills and its easy-going chorus.
GTBB enjoy the Blues Enthused verdict on Shine
Or on the Stax-like blues of 'Shine' itself, with its grooving rhythm guitar and horn riffing, sparky, scampering guitar solo, undertow of organ and “C’mon people” refrain.  But now there are also songs that seem to carry hints of Southern rock.  There are distant echoes of ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ in the laid back ‘Lyin’ To Yourself’, with its tinkling piano and patient, clear-toned guitar soloing from Taylor Orr that acquires more bite when they surge into another gear towards the end.  But in the latter half of the album it’s the Black Crowes who seem to enter the equation, ranging from the mid-paced ‘High Again’ with its appealing melody and tripping rhythm, to the slower highlight ‘Carry Me Home’, with its woozy guitar intro and mournful swells of horns, and ‘Heading Nowhere Fast’, on which an organ break mingles with flickers of guitar, while Isbell’s distinctive, husky voice sings of “Heading nowhere fast but making good time”.
They do have other strings to their bow though, with the upbeat shuffle of ‘Givin’ It All Away’ showcasing an excellent trombone solo from Suavo Jones, some hip-hop rapping giving a modern edge to ‘Dirty’, and the slow and quiet start to the engaging ‘Hey There Lucinda’ featuring weeping slide guitar and organ before the beat picks up.
Shine demonstrates that Ghost Town Blues Band aren’t content to keep peddling the same old, same old.  It may feel a bit sombre at times, but overall it does what it says on the tin.  And my soft spot for them endures.

Shine was released on 4 October 2019.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Jimmy Carpenter - Soul Doctor

Listening to the easy grooves of Jimmy Carpenter’s latest album is what we in Scotland would describe as “comfy”.  Like getting your slippers on and putting your feet up on a filthy winter’s day, such as it is as I write, it’s a relaxing experience that puts a smile on your face.
Carpenter is best known for his sax playing talents, for which he has received multiple Blues Music Award nominations.  But on Soul Doctor he also lays out his songwriting and vocal credentials to good effect over the course of ten songs, eight of them originals.  In his best moments he puts me in mind of the likes of Delbert McClinton and Southside Johnny, even
Jimmy Carpenter - check that horn!
if vocally he doesn’t have the personality of either of those characters.
You might suppose that the Southside Johnny comparison originates in Carpenter’s sax playing, and the additional horns of trumpeter Doug Woolverton and baritone sax man Mark Earley that are put to good use across several tracks.  But what we have here isn’t the hard-driving soul usually characteristic of the Asbury Jukes.  Instead, on my favourite track ‘When I Might You’, there’s an old soul vibe that reminds me of Southside and the gang covering Sam Cooke classics.  It’s a really good tune, well suited to the horn-led approach, while Carpenter’s crooning vocal delivery shows off his voice at its best, and his sax solo is spot on.
The following ‘Wild Streak’, meanwhile, has that Delbert vibe in more ways than one.  Musically, it’s a catchy, swinging slice of country soul boogie.  And lyrically it captures Carpenter’s wry sense of humour nicely.  It also benefits from some rinky-dink piano backing from Red Young, while for good measure long-time buddy Mike Zito adds a good time slide solo (rather than on the following track, as the sleeve notes suggest, I believe).
Other highlights include the cinematic, jazz-tinged instrumental ‘LoFi Roulette’, with its smoky, low down sax, underpinned by tasteful bass from Jason Langley, and featuring an edgy, piercing guitar solo from Chris Tofield.  'Need Your Love So Bad' is a dreamy slow blues with a Fifties mood and another tastefully smooth vocal plus a rich and romantic tenor sax solo, while ‘Wrong Turn’ deploys a quasi “shave-and-a-haircut” rhythm and ringing rhythm guitar, elevated by a knife-edge Tofield slide solo and the additional raunch of some harp from Al Ek.
The opening title track sets the tone for all of this, with its funky soul groove, a neat guitar solo from Nick Schnebelen, and the first of Carpenter’s cracking sax solos.  A cover of Eddie Hinton’s ‘Yeah Man’ rounds things off nicely, with a droll, catchy chorus and hints of Dion in the tune, embellished by twinkling guitar and subtle organ, and sax and guitar intertwining cleverly as it winds to a close.
There may be a couple of lightweight offerings on Soul Doctor, but there’s still plenty in here to commend it, all wrapped up in a suitably cool and funky cover painting of a sax-tooting Jimmy by Randy Frechette.  All in all Soul Doctor makes for a refreshing change from yer typical guitar-dominated blues affair – and, of course, a relaxing one.

Soul Doctor was released in Britain by Gulf Coast Records on 29 November 2019.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Mike Zito - Live From The Top

He’s been a busy fella this last year or so, has Mike Zito.  What with launching new label Gulf Coast Records with his partner Guy Hale, producing albums for a number of their artists, and releasing a tribute album to Chuck Berry in collaboration with a bundle of other blues honchos.  So when’d he find the time to go recording a live album?
Answer - he didn’t.  Live From The Top is a reissue of a live album recorded at the after-party from the 2010 Blues From The Top Festival in Colorado – and a reminder of just how good Mike Zito can be. 
Mike Zito - havin' a guitarin' good time
The show kicks off with ‘Natural Born Lover’, one of nine tracks from the 2009 studio album Pearl River, which sets out Zito’s stall very nicely, thank you very much.  A relaxed bit of bumpin’ an’ grindin’, its warm sound accommodates Zito’s easy-going voice, a skidding slide solo, and a sax break from his long-time buddy Jimmy Carpenter, as well as folding in small spoonfuls of ‘You Shook Me’ and ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’.  And from there right through to the close with the fun boogie of Elmore James’ ‘Ice Cream Man’, scudding slide and all, Zito and his confreres deliver a swingingly good time.
So consistent is Live From The Top that picking out highlights ain’t easy.  But it’s worth noting how Zito can nudge the blues envelope in different directions to good effect, as with the quirkily jazzy ‘Dead Of Night’ on which John Morris knocks out an oom-pah-pah bass line that could easily come from a tuba, while Zito wraps some witty, nimble guitar around a lyric about “dancing on the beach in the dead of night”.  And the following ‘C’mon Baby’ – in what, 6/8 time? – begs for a waltz-like turn around the room with its yearning, romantic feel.
‘One Step At A Time’ seems like a straightforward enough animal in its evocation of this particular bluesman’s recovery from alcoholism.  But with Zito twirling out bright, ringing chords while Morris’s bass carries the riff, and a wonderful sax solo from Carpenter, it reaches out towards Tom Petty or John Hiatt territory.  (It ain’t gonna happen, but the thought has occurred to me now and then that if he put his mind to it, and the cards were to fall his way, Zito has got the songwriting juice to break out beyond the blues to a wider audience.)
As always, Zito has a knack for funkiness too, whether it’s ‘Big Mouth’, on which the guitar,
Aaaaand . . . relax!
bass and drums get a sweet groove on while he delivers a typically funny lyric about relationship problems, or the slinky ‘Sugar Sweet’, which is right in the wheelhouse of guest Ana Popovic, who delivers an almost voicebox-like wah-wah solo before the two of them get down to some conversational guitar duetting.  And there’s more where that came from.
There’s great blues too of course, such as the dark and sombre ‘Pearl River’, with its references to Billie Holliday’s ‘Strange Fruit’, the purposeful grind of ’19 Years Old’, with slicing slide guitar from guest Nick Moss and chirping, growling and squeaking harp from Curtis Salgado.  And guitar aficionados will appreciate Zito’s substantial and expressive exploration on ‘All Last Night’.  But whatever they’re serving up, fanfares are also required for the drumming of Rob Lee, who delivers rock solid but supple rhythmic foundations from start to finish.
But you know what?  However you cut this particular cake, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Meaning:  Live From The Top gets you in the room with an audience having a few beers, having a few laughs, dancing their asses off, and generally having a damn good time.  And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.

Live From The Top is released in Britain by Gulf Coast Records on 12 January.
The videos of 'Big Mouth' and 'Pearl River' are taken from different performances in 2010, with the same band that features on Live From The Top.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Jimmy "Duck" Holmes - Cypress Grove

It doesn’t get much more authentic than this, the latest album from Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, the Mississippi bluesman who owns the Blue Front Café, one of the most famous juke joints still on the go in the South.  Now, Jimmy is 72 years old, so not the oldest wheel on the blues train – Buddy Guy is 83, after all.  But Cypress Grove sounds like blues that has been discovered in a time capsule and dusted down for the present day.
At the heart of the album are two things.  First, there’s the groove Holmes imparts with the riffs he plays, whether on acoustic or rhythm guitar.  And second, there’s his voice, which has an ancient blues quality.  The two elements are there, virtually unadorned, on the opening ‘Hard Times’ – spare strumming and picking, and a low moaning vocal, often wordless – that set the tone for what will follow.
Jimmy "Duck" Holmes - down, down deeper and down
There is a bit more elaboration across the rest of the album, mind you, as producer Dan Auerbach and a handful of other musos add subtle accents to that central groove.  But it’s done in the most simpatico fashion imaginable, so that ‘Devil Got My Woman’ is still centred on Holmes’ haunting vocal melody, amid subterranean bass, shimmers of cymbal, casually scattered acoustic chords, and brief guitar licks.
Yeah, ‘Catfish Blues’ features a guitar break that winks at Hendrix, who of course also recorded the song, but in its styling the solo still seats itself in the contemplative vibe created by Holmes, along with earlier sparks of electric guitar, and subtle percussion from Sam Bracco, who here and there puts bongos to good use in addition to an everyday drum kit.
The subtlety is such that listening to Cypress Grove is akin to being hit over the head with a gold brick wrapped in thick velvet.  The version of ‘Little Red Rooster’ is simply magnificent, with a scratchy guitar opening and more bongos leading into a wonderfully simple descending riff – the kind of thing Jimmy Page might once upon a time have been inclined to pocket when no-one was looking, and later turn up to 11.  Another guitar tickles away in the background while Holmes patiently tells his tale, then some sax from Leon Michels slides into the mix, snaking around the groove, and some tasteful guitar notes float around – and then it fades out.  Three and a half absorbing minutes, job done.
‘Goin’ Away Baby’ is all pitter patter drums, ticking guitar and what sounds like Jew’s Harp, conjuring up a trance-like vibe into which a few stabs of tough, mid-pitched guitar are injected.  ‘All Night Long’ develops a different, almost Latin rhythm, anchored by a three note bass line from Eric Deaton that’s right in the pocket, creating a laid back feel over which Marcus King delivers a woozy slide guitar outro.  And Deaton's mastery of the nagging, insistent bottom end is apparent throughout, not least on the title track, to which Auerback adds a creepy electric drone in the background while Holmes sings about "When your body starts aching, and your body starts to get cold".
The album closes with ‘Two Women’, which is topped and tailed by a classic blues riff, and in between lopes along on an offbeat rhythm, with brushed cymbals and bursts of acoustic guitar, and a spiky, minimalist guitar break bringing a dash of modernity to Jimmy’s relationship musings.
Cypress Grove is not about catchy tunes or earworms.  It’s not about guitar showmanship either, so devotees of blues rock shredding should look elsewhere.  Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is an inheritor of the Bentonia, Mississippi blues tradition, and Cypress Grove mines that rich seam - elemental minor key stuff that’s shaped into mesmerising Delta grooves.  These roots go deep, real deep.  Close your eyes, pin back your ears, and follow ‘em down.

Cypress Grove was released by Easy Eye Sound on 18 October 2019.