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Blues Round-up: February 2015

Album Review

Henry Yates on new releases from Ian Siegal, Dana Fuchs, Eric Bibb, Larry Miller and Albert King

Ian Siegal: The Picnic Sessions

How lo-fi can you go? As mainstream pop grows ever more buffed, plucked and Pro Tooled, there’s an arms race for bare-bones authenticity at the other end of the scene. You suspect it’ll be tough to beat The Picnic Sessions, a ‘hit record and hope’ session that sees British bluesman Ian Siegal and US cohorts sat on the floor of a Mississippi shack with just a ribbon mic by way of production. 

“Don’t expect perfection,” he warns us. Of course, the imperfection is the charm. Atmosphere abounds, with each song preceded by a snippet of banter that finds the players assigning harmonies, working out kinks, handing out pistachios. 

And when the music starts, the songs feel alive in their hands, whether that’s the lazy lollop of Townes Van Zandt’s heavenly Houseboat Blues, the shimmering anecdotage of Tom Russell’s cockfight fable, Gallo Del Cielo, or Siegal’s impossibly gruff vocal on his own swashbuckling Talkin’ Overseas Pirate Blues. It’s surely the mark of a great bluesman when even his odds and sods feel essential. (8/10)


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