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Blues Round-up: September 2012

Album Review

Henry Yates on new releases from Gravelroad, Lincoln Durham, Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Big Boy Bloater & The Limits and Innes Sibun

Gravelroad: Psychedelta

Elsewhere in this issue, Gravelroad’s Stefan Zillioux lays into the “predictable 12-bar” nature of modern blues, and the “fannypack-wearing” punters who support it. It’s fighting talk bordering on hubris, but the Seattle trio’s vision of an alternative is thrillingly demonstrated by third album Psychedelta. Granted, these 10 tracks have the whiff of blues students who have done their homework – Keep On Movin’, for instance, reworks the lyrics of a genuine chain-gang chant. Yet it’s never cloyingly reverential or mired in the past, with riffs like Nobody Get Me Down and Deep Blues so pugnacious they make Jack White sound polite, and the ‘psyche’ element supplied by woozy, bloodshot-eyed moments like the guitar solo of Devil Eyes and the slow-burning Caves. Recent years backing Mississippi blues tyrant T-Model Ford have evidently given Gravelroad added lead in their pencil. Best of all, at a time when Justin Bieber’s Believe will cost you £12.99 on Amazon, Psychedelta is available to stream – in full and for free – on the band’s website. No excuses, then. (9/10)

Lincoln Durham: The Shovel Vs The Howling Bones

Initially, the 31-year-old Austin songwriter “tried to write light-hearted love songs”. He knocked that on the head, thank God, and so we have this cracking debut, with its rattling, sparse, Son House-inspired slide guitars and ink-black lyrics that find the world in ashes and the singer predicting his own death on the gallows. Dark stuff, then, but hugely enjoyable. (8/10)

Magic Slim & The Teardrops: Bad Boy

You can’t help but feel that Magic Slim should be rather ashamed of himself. Backed by the expert Chicago bounce of The Teardrops, the 75-year-old lives up to his ‘bad boy’ billing with repeated demands for booze, drugs and sex with older women (‘There shouldn’t be no law,’ he barks at one point, ‘for a man to smoke him a little reefer sometime!’). Bluesmen such as Slim won’t last forever so cherish the old rogue while you still can. (7/10)

Big Boy Bloater & The Limits: The World Explained

If Lincoln Durham’s glass-half-empty outlook has left you deflated, aural Prozac arrives via the latest effort from fast-rising British R&B man Big Boy Bloater. His palette is all over the shop, but it’s always perfect for rug-cutting, from the plink-plonk jump-blues of Leonard Cohen to the ska-kissed poison-pen love-letter that is Insanely Happy. (8/10)

Innes Sibun: Can’t Slow Down

West Country guitar ace Innes Sibun has vindicated his decision to quit playing for the Robert Plant band many times in the past, and there’s even more rationale on display in his sublime new album Can’t Slow Down. This is especially true on cuts such as I Found Your Letter, which is a heartfelt, agreeably rough’n’ready effort that has soul splashed all over it. One thing’s for sure – it establishes its author beyond any doubt as the most rocking thing about Bath Spa. (8/10)

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