C'mon now, seriously, have ya ever heard a bad Doug MacLeod CD? Of course not! And I could probably rest my case there, but this little gem is worthy of note, being a collection of live-to-mic solos and duets, sometimes with percussion, other times with bass. MacLeod pretty frequently plays The Boogaloo Cafe down in Hermosa Beach a few miles from me and always attracts a crowd. The reason's easy to understand. All you have to do is listen to his guitar, drenched in blues and as subtle as a sidewinder weaving sinuous lines in the sand. However, the guy is also known for his soulful vocals, and this CD may very well be the best exposition of them so far.
This Old River is almost gospel—heartfelt, impassioned, and quivering with emotion, the river a metaphor, as has classically been the case, for the line between life and death. Then there's The Addition to Blues, a swingin' number about, er, well, um…honeydipping and the women who are only too happy to share with men what their sisters will not or will only sell via the usual merchandising (marriage, etc.). After that come the boogie numbers, the folkie laments, and the many embrasures of tradition (Long Time Road et al), each one nailed as a perfect exposition.
MacLeod not only sings while picking and strumming an entrancing guitar but plays the foot as well. That's right: two microphones were set up for the six-stringed axes and one for his foot keeping the time. Sounds a trifle odd but with body-tapping being the new rage, it fits right in. The CD was recorded in the Netherlands, in Utrecht, his favorite town, which isn't particularly noteworthy but interesting that he chose an old town in old Europe for a very tripped old style recital…which brings new life to a hallowed genre.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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