It seems a long time since Rory Block has released a new record.
Perhaps it is simply that I am a bit out of the loop with the current
blues scene, as I've been enmeshed in so much other music lately
but I digress. On The Lady And Mr. Johnson, Ms. Block has put
together a fantastic, earthy collection of songs written by or originally
yep, you guessed it, Robert Johnson. Block
does a wonderful job of interpreting these old standards and giving
them her own voice, making them sparkle and shine as if brand new.
The record starts where most modern blues aficionados agree that
modern blues had its origination, "Cross Road Blues". Block
turns in a gritty and soulful performance, playing the slide guitar
with a tenacity and flavor with which only she could imbue it. "Milkcow's
Blues" finds Block in fine form, both on the guitar and in her
vocal delivery. Her voice is rich and warm, while slipping easily
into falsettos that impress, making the track one of the finest modern
blues interpretations I've heard. "Ramblin' On My Mind"
is brilliantly played, Block's guitar work showing the minute levels
of finesse and soul of which she is capable. Block's playing on "Last
Fair Deal Gone Down" is simply amazing, filled with rhythmic
hop and intensity, nicely offsetting her thick and sultry vocals.
By the time the classic "Come In My Kitchen" hits the speakers,
there is no doubt left that Rory Block stands among the masters of
blues guitar players, as her slide licks snake their way in the brain,
slipping around and worming their way into your soul. The performance
is inspired, truly paying homage to the finest bluesman the world
has probably ever known.
There is something magical about a virtuoso performer stepping away
from a band dynamic and stretching out on his/her own in a naked musical
way, recording a record simply one instrument and voice. The arrangements
here are fairly traditional, based on songs that have a majesty of
their own, but Rory Block infuses each of Robert Johnson's songs with
her own voice, attitude and soul
making The Lady And Mr.
Johnson a masterwork of contemporary bluesmanship
as this case shows
and I don't think she probably sold her soul
for the chance at it.
1. Cross Road Blues
2. Preaching Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)
3. Milkcow's Blues
4. Walkin' Blues
5. 32-20 Blues
6. Ramblin' On My Mind
7. Terraplane Blues
8. Me And The Devil Blues
9. Last Fair Deal Gone Down
10. Come In My Kitchen
11. Hellhound On My Trail
12. If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day
13. Kind Hearted Woman Blues
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