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Mississippi MacDonald


Joe Bonamassa ROYAL TEA.jpg

It might be a hint of laziness, or the indecisive inability to choose an alternative from a host of possibilities, but this album has been on heavy rotation for several weeks now. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why I like it so much and the simple conclusion is that it contains a totally faultless set of beautifully played Blues infused songs that sounds like it was recorded back in the sixties by a well-known singer and guitarist who you can’t recall the name of, but is ever so familiar.

It’s likewise with the nine lovingly crafted songs on this collection; you’ll find yourself wracking your brains to work out which Blues legend made the tune popular when, in fact, all the songs are originals written by the extravagantly (and not exactly geographically accurate) named English artist. He has a real knack for recreating the mood of pioneering Blues records.

'Your Wife is Cheating on Us', for example, is one of the best modern songs in a traditional style that you are likely to come across. The vocals are spot on, smoothly gruff and distinctive, without descending into parody. In addition to his own excellent guitar playing, the overall sound is punctuated by consistently superb horn arrangements and sympathetically supportive keyboards, mainly Hammond organ.

Producer Phil Dearing has done a great job on giving this album a gloss like a million-dollar paint job. The guitar playing is right up my street; without really sounding specifically like BB or Albert King, there is something in his style that brings them to mind. It would be more accurate to post Albert Collins as a primary influence on the guitar playing of MacDonald, an influence which manifests itself in him with a smoother, more soulful feel. His little clusters of bent notes when soloing or playing fills are delightful and sound totally authentic. There’s not a note out of place here.

While being individually distinctive, each song maintains the overall homogenous feel of the album, which is one reason I suppose why it stays on the metaphorical turntable (no vinyl available for reviewers sadly, even with Christmas looming); this artist takes the listener on a smooth Bluesy ride that will leave them wanting more of the same. This album should come with a sticker that says “Aural satisfaction guaranteed”. Superb.

Simon Green

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