Buddy Guy,
Born to Play Guitar
(RCA Silvertone, 2015)

A new Buddy Guy album is always a treat. At 79, he generates more heat and energy than players half his age and, instead of being content to rest on his well-earned reputation, continues to lead the way toward the future of the blues, even as he keeps the past fresh and vibrant.

And that's important to him. The last thing Muddy Waters told him was to keep the blues alive. Speaking of the older guys -- the generation that created Chicago blues and is now gone -- he says, "They all told me that if they left here before I did, then everything was going to be on my shoulders. So as long as I'm here, I'd going to do whatever I can to keep it alive."

Listening to Born to Play Guitar, you get the feeling that while he's keeping the old stuff current, Guy is getting ready to pass the torch. For one thing, many of the songs on this album are autobiographical. The title tune covers Guy's growing up as a musician, explaining how he had no choice but to play guitar, while "Come Back, Muddy" laments the fact that Muddy Waters has passed on and tells how much he is needed still.

But it just the song choice that creates that feeling. On this album, Guy surrounds himself with younger colleagues, bringing in guest artists like Kim Wilson on harp, Billy Gibson on guitar, Joss Stone for a vocal duet and on "Flesh & Bone," a song dedicated to the recently passed on B.B.King, and Van Morrison. It's as if he wants to ensure that others are ready to carry on when he is gone.

That doesn't mean that Born to Play Guitar is a sad or burdened album. Guy's music has always been filled with enthusiasm and joy and this disc is no exception. It is a beauty, with clean playing, good writing and with Guy in good form as both a guitarist and a vocalist. He's having the time of his life here and appears to be drawing new and fresh energy from his guests.

This is one you'll be playing a lot.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

8 August 2015

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