Buddy Guy,
Blues Singer
(Silvertone, 2003)

While the latest release by legendary bluesmaster Buddy Guy is a pleasant surprise among many blues purists, long-time fans of the artist may have a less than favorable opinion. On Blues Singer, Guy explores new territory; instead of his signature high-voltage, electric blues style, he captures the authentic sound of an earlier time. Leaving the electric guitar at home, Guy concentrates solely on a no-frills, back-to-basics, all-acoustic version of the Delta blues format.

Blues Singer contains 12 tracks of blues originals, three written by John Lee Hooker, as Guy pays tribute to this legendary artist. The CD highlights a more traditional, roots style of blues, with an intimate performance heard on each track. The album opens with, "Hard Time Killing Floor," as Guy covers this Skip James tune with a strong vocal performance that's full of emotion. Eric Clapton and B.B. King make guest appearances on the next two tracks, "Crawlin' Kingsnake" and "Lucy Mae Blues." Both of these tracks really shine with some excellent fretwork and guitar riffs being exchanged by all three artists.

Unfortunately, the remaining tracks seem to slow down to a crawl, losing momentum and at times sounding like one long song. About midway through, "Moanin' and Groanin'" picks up the pace with Guy producing some great fingerpicking and vocal accents.

Blues Singer tries to recreate the original feel of these blues standards using minimal back up from drums and upright bass. Overall, this approach is successful, presenting a rootsy feel to the recording, but lacks the energy and drive needed from start to finish. Blues Singer may not be Guy's best effort, but it certainly isn't his worst. There's a sincere application with the Delta format, but Guy is much better served staying with what he does best.

- Rambles
written by Pamela L. Dow
published 7 February 2004

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