I’ve been remiss lately in keeping up with some new albums I wanted to write about. I’d like to be able to say that it was all due to circumstances beyond my control, and tell you just how hard I’ve been working on more meaningful projects, but that would be a lie. Or an alternative fact. Basically, I’ve just been lazy.
In order to catch up, I’m going to write this post about the three albums in the headline, which means they’ll all be a little shorter than usual. So there’s a timesaver benefit for you. Use that extra time wisely (I suggest mixing a well-chilled Tanqueray martini). I wish I could say that this format would save some trees, but that would also be a lie.
Anyway. I used fewer words, but these albums are all worth a listen.
WildRoots Sessions, Volume 1 (WildRoots Records)
When he isn’t performing his passionate piano-pounding duties, Victor Wainwright also serves as the co-founder of WildRoots Records, a blues, roots, folk and Americana label he formed in 2005 with Stephen Dees and Patricia Ann Dees, after Stephen co-wrote and produced Wainwright’s solo debut album, “Piana’ From Savannah.”
In this “Sessions” album, the producers wanted to feature artists from past projects, along with the variety of styles they represent. And so you get everything from the opener, the Wilson Pickett classic “634-5789,” to the torchy and soulful “Our Last Goodbye,” with John Oates, to the glorious gospel of “Cradled in the Bosom of Jerusalem.” with Wainwright and Beth McKee (who I once happily wrote about and then saw, here and here).
This is a wonderful session, lovingly conceived and produced, full of sometimes lively, sometimes poignant music that crisscrosses blues, soul, folk, and gospel, with the many voices and musicians who have been part of the WildRoots family over the years.
Andy Cohen – “Tryin’ to Get Home” (Earwig Music)
Andy Cohen is one of those rare country blues artists who specializes in old-timey, finger-picked acoustic blues. And he’s one of the best I’ve heard. He plays mostly Southeastern music, from the 1920s to the ’50s, including blues, gospel, country dance music, fiddle tunes, monologues, ballads, classic rags, ditties, country songs and boogies.
He lists the Rev. Gary Davis as a prime influence and guru, and has produced a tribute album to him (“Gary Davis Style”). Cohen seems to be a musical encyclopedia, performing the works of, among many others, John Hurt, Big Bill, Gus Cannon, Frank Stokes, Memphis Minnie, Bukka White, Barbecue Bob, and Charlie Patton. Just a few of the tracks here are “Pea Vine Blues,” Step It Up and Go,” and “One Monkey Don’t STop the Show.”
Here’s an experimental link to this album’s cover information, including song titles and descriptions.
Dave Thomas – “One More Mile” (Blonde on Blonde Direct Music)
Dave Thomas is a blues singer/songwriter/guitarist from South Wales (that’s across the pond, and not the New South Wales, in Australia). Which means he’s not exactly a household word here in the former colonies. He’s not exactly a newcomer, either, with over a half-century having passed since he signed on as a singer/guitarist with progressive rock pioneers Blonde On Blonde (named after the great 1966 Bob Dylan album) in 1969.
In more recent years, the Dave Thomas Blues Band has explored blues and other roots material with a penchant for personal introspection. He’s been working on this release, his first in five years, for about 10 years, with two more releases to come.
The music here is original, including diverse material connected by Thomas’ personal sensibilities, including songs with a down-home touch like “I Want the Blues,” a harder rocking “Eccentric Man” and the sweetly ephemeral “You Danced in My Kitchen.”
Here are some videos of each of the above artists:
It might be slightly out of season, but it’s on the album: Victor Wainwright and “Santa Claus is Back in Town”
Andy Cohen’s “Puffin’ That Stuff”
The title track, “One More Mile,” by Dave Thomas