Geoff Muldaur,
Beautiful Isle of Somewhere
(Tradition & Moderne, 2003)

This CD was created from a live performance in Germany that was recorded by Radio Bremen. Geoff Muldaur worried about the quiet response he received from the audience to his music. He needn't have. I think they may have been struck with awe.

Question: What does Geoff Muldaur have? Answer: I don't know, but whatever it is I'm glad he's sharing it.

I've always liked to hear blues sung in a deep morning-after-too-much-liquor voice. Now, Muldaur throws that out of the water with his own brand of blues and a stylish voice to match. His style is fluid, but not mellow, never mellow -- because even though it goes down like warm, golden, apple cider, its heat spreads like a quick shot of double scotch.

Get drunk on this music? Sure can. Muldaur's voice pushes oxygen from the blood and fills it with liquid sound. Remember Bo Derek, that movie -- a 10. Muldaur's voice is a 10. Even if the rest of him is not (and maybe it is), the voice is a 10! It's not a 10 because it's a perfect voice, but because it has such vibrancy and the ability to go from low to high in less than one nanosecond flat; a Ferrari of a voice, going from a deep purr to a soft high whine.

He has exquisite timing and has several adaptations of southern favorites in the mix on this album. He sings and plays compositions of his own, "The Common Cold" and "Got to Find Blind Lemon, Part 2." He also plays covers: "My Tears Came Rolling Down" by Walter Davis, "Drop Down Mama" by John Adam Estes and "Trouble Soon Be Over" by Blind Willie Johnson. He does Bobby Charles' "Tennessee Blues" in a folk-ballad style. It's not as bluesy as most of the other cuts, but is similar to the title and last cut, "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" I'm not convinced that a blues man can yodel, but he tries it on that last song, a brave and valiant effort that shows how far a guy will go to connect with his audience.

There is nothing predictable about this CD unless you're already familiar with Muldaur's style and know that he controls the song and makes it his own with every breath, every word. I'd like to watch him play guitar someday because it sounds like two people playing at times, but there's nothing to indicate that on the CD notes. For now I'll settle for playing the CD and if you have an inclination for some winsome blues try this one out for yourself.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 2 August 2003