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Blues Round-up: November 2010

Album Review

Henry Yates on new releases from Larry Miller, Stevie Nimmo, Devon Allman’s Honeytribe, Matt Andersen and Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Larry Miller: Unfinished Business

‘Christ, this fella can play.’ It’s a standard reaction to a chance encounter with British bluesman Larry Miller, and is typically followed by another thought: ‘Why isn’t he a superstar?’ Maybe that’s the Unfinished Business Miller is referring to. A big live draw for many years, Miller is now starting to write albums that bottle the white heat of his shows, and you sense this latest effort is his best shot yet at the A-list. Back in 2008, we were impressed by Outlaw Blues, but Unfinished Business is even better: a taut, fiery, ambitious record that sees Miller wringing his heart out through his fingers and making no apology for his Guildford roots (“I ain’t from Mississippi,” he barks on As Blue As It Gets, “but i’m a bluesman!”). Hampshire, it seems, is just as likely to get the blues as anywhere, and this boy certainly delivers. With stinging riffs dropping like mortar fire, there’s a temptation to categorise Miller as merely a guitar hero, but that’s a disservice to his excellent original writing and battle-scarred voicebox. Business is good. (8/10) 

Stevie Nimmo: The Wynds Of Life

Best-known as one half of the Nimmo Brothers, Stevie strikes out with a set of solo material that’s a bit more country and western than you probably expected. Pedal-steel guitars weep, accordions wheeze, lovesick dreamers endure lonely nights in Georgia... and it all hangs together pretty well, in an undemanding Sunday afternoon sort of way. (6/10)

Devon Allman’s Honeytribe: Space Age Blues

"I had a concept that you could simplify as Darth Vader meets BB King,” says Devon Allman of his self-created science-fiction blues genre. Sadly, anyone hoping to play air-lightsaber will find this is actually fairly traditional stuff, albeit bolstered by Devon’s soulful voice, which proves he’s not the runt of the Allman litter. (6/10)

Matt Andersen: Live From The Phoenix Theatre

“I might look like a guy from the Ten Most Wanted,” cracks Andersen on One Size Never Fits, “but I’m nothing to be scared of.” It’s one of many lovely moments on this genuinely intimate set, wherein the Canadian man-mountain charms the pants off his audience and plays the arse off his acoustic. (7/10) 

Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Live! In Chicago

Never trust a fresh-faced bluesman... unless it’s this Louisiana golden boy, who has mixed the elusive cocktail of youth, cheekbones, monster success and – get this – genuine talent. Fans of Shepherd’s tousled good looks should opt for the DVD version, but enthusiasts of his stinging strat touch will lap up these live tracks. (7/10)

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