Five Recent Blues Releases You Should Hear

Posted by Michael Mueller on December 27, 2012 at 1:11 PM

During a recent move from the greater NYC area to Nashville, a box of CDs pending review was misplaced. Well, it's been recovered, and here are a few of the goodies it contained.

Michael Burks Show StrengthShow of Strength Michael Burks (Alligator)  
This posthumous release, which was recorded and finished just prior to his untimely death in May 2012, perfectly encapsulates Burks's sinewy riffs, explosive solos, and sweet yet powerful vocals. From the cool, R&B-flavored opening track "Count on You" to the closing, poignant cover of Charlie Rich's "Feel Like Going Home," Show of Strength is 12 tracks of blues truth. Rest in peace, Iron Man.

Margolin & RabsonNot Alone Ann Rabson with Bob Margolin (Vizztone) 
Rabson and Margolin are longtime friends and musical collaborators, so it makes sense that they finally did a record together. Not Alone is a somewhat eclectic collection of blues covers and originals, from upbeat numbers like "Let's Get Drunk and Truck," "Caledonia," and the Margolin-penned "Let It Go" to the plaintive cover of "How Long Blues" to the uppity (as Rabson calls it) "No Time for the Blues" to the uplifting "It Ain't Love," there's a little something for every traditional-blues lover here.

Simon McBride CrossingCrossing the Line Simon McBride (Nugene)
Listen to McBride's scorching fretwork for just one track, and it's easy to hear why he's being compared to fellow Irish blues-rock guitar legends Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore as well as young American (though also an Anglophile) superpicker Joe Bonamassa. McBride seamlessly blends fire and soul throughout, particularly on opener "Lead Us Away," "No Room to Breathe," "Starve This Fever," and "Heartbreaker." If you like your blues chops served up smoking' hot, this one's for you.

Kubek & KingClose to the Bone Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King (Delta Groove)  
Kubek and King shine on this 14-track collection of unplugged blues. Despite playing almost exclusively on acoustic instruments, Smokin' Joe lives up to his moniker, firing off raw and edgy lines at will, while King's more laid-back, deep-blues style provides the perfect complement. Not a Delta or country blues record, as tends to be the assumption with acoustic blues, the compositions here are more roots-oriented, with well-conceived arrangements and ear-catching hooks.

JS Taylor AlmostAlmost Always Never Joanne Shaw Taylor (Ruf)
The British-born Taylor attacks her Les Paul with the abandon of Jimmy Page and the eloquence of Eric Clapton as well as the ferocity of her Texas blues guitar hero Stevie Ray Vaughan. But the real bonus here is that her gritty and emotive vocals match her impressive six-string chops, making this one enjoyable listening experience.


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