Doug MacLeod is, simply put, one of the best at what he does — a masterful storyteller and an elegant picker and singer of the blues.
This fine little album is just six songs long, but that’s a lot of blues storytelling from MacLeod, who writes all of his own material (with a minor exception on this session).
It also doesn’t seem to be available as a “real” album, but as a collection released Sept. 9 by the Sledgehammer Blues label, found on streaming services. I recently ran across it on my Amazon Prime Music Unlimited service, gave it a listen,
If you’re familiar with his work, these songs will be instantly recognizable. Doug’s style is uniquely and unmistakably his own — from the folksy drama of his lyrics to the eloquence of his acoustic guitar work.
The songs are: The deeply hopeful despair of “Mystery Woman,” and “Come to Find,” “Bring it On Home,” the slyly salacious “One Good Woman,” the wistful “Old Country Road,” and the loving memory-driven “Norfolk County Line.”
Digression: MacLeod’s cover of Willie Dixon’s “Bring It On Home,” is an exception here to his preference for his own songs. But it’s an excellent take on the old Sonny Boy Williamson II version. (Just for the record, and because it’s one of my blues pet peeves, Sonny Boy was actually born Aleck Miller, and later took the name of John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson as his own. I’ve always thought that this was deeply unfair to the real Williamson, as his harp work was prolific and influential.)
But no matter. This is a fine sampling of Doug MacLeod’s literate, painfully honest approach to music. For more, there are many other albums available, and he’ll be sailing and singing on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues cruise next January (#38). See you there.