Had Maria Muldaur only recorded J.C. Johnson's erotic Empty Bed Blues (forever an Xplicit staple of The Empress herself, Bessie Smith) Sweet Lovin' Ol' Soul would be worth the price of admission . That she went on to includ eleven other haunted Highway 61 mileposts, notably Ain't What You Used To Have, Decent Woman Blues (recorded by one of my favorites, Julia Lee) Tricks Ain't Walkin, and Take A Stand places this firmly into the category of must-hear!
As a follow-up to her acclaimed Richland Woman Blues, Muldaur, more than any of the big names who supposedly 'do' the blues (Clapton's lame millionaire renditions of Robert Johnson comes immediately to mind), knows how far and deep the roots of the blues lie and has never shied from following those roots to wherever they lead. And where they lead is deep into the living, breathing everyday; not a stone cold museum or high tech recording studio (which could be one and the same, take your pick.).
As producer, Muldaur mines simpatico players from her past: jug master Fritz Richmond; Taj Mahal - who duets on the exhilarating Ain't What You Used To Have and Take A Stand. Players from her now: Tracy Nelson, fiddler Suzy Thompson, guitarist/vocalist Alvin Youngblood Hart and pianist Dave Matthews who play brilliantly throughout. Adding to these bare bones, age-wise and wicked blues is Pinetop Perkins, who at 92 gives Muldaur the bluest indigo setting for Decent Woman Blues while guitarists Del Ray and Steve James resurrect Memphis Minnie's peculiar picking style.
If you think I can't say enough about Sweet Lovin' Ol Soul, how about this as a testament to her authenticity: The other day a well versed friend of mine asked which old blues mama was I listening to. When I told him who it was, he shook his head, amazed ."Sounds like the real deal," he said, urging me to hit the repeat button.
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