Lurrie Bell, |
Let's Talk About Love
As far as career choices go, Lurrie Bell never had a choice. As the son of master blues harp player Carey Bell, he grew up in a Chicago household where musicians such as Eddie Taylor, Jimmy Dawkins, Big Walter Hawkins and Lovie Lee would drop by and rehearse or just hang out. He picked up the guitar and, when he was 14, Lovie Lee, whom he describes as his "spiritual grandfather," snuck him into a club to make his stage debut.
Just as he was building a career, though, tragedy struck. Bell came down with a serious bout of a mental illness that sidetracked him through most of the 1980s and '90s -- he was even homeless for a time. He came through and resumed his career, spending a stretch of time in his dad's Carey Bell Blues Harp Band.
The tragedy still lurked, though; last year he lost both his father and his partner, with whom he has a toddler daughter.
Many people who have been through what Lurrie Bell experienced would have folded. He did not. As his longtime friend and producer says, he came through it "without any bitterness or anger." When it came time to begin work on his first solo album in eight years, Bell chose love as a theme.
The album is here, and the good news is that Bell hasn't lost a bit of his talent. He plays and sings beautifully, tastefully, with a sense of life and optimism that makes even the down songs on the album, such as "Why am I Treated So Bad," sound alive and positive. "Let's Talk About Love," the opening track, is a shuffle that sets the tone for the disc; it says bad times come and go but love is always present; let's concentrate on it.
It's a good message and this is a fine album. Even without knowing Lurrie Bell's backstory, you'll find Let's Talk About Love a rich experience in the blues.
Michael Scott Cain
5 April 2008
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