This one has raucous down-home written all over it, a New Orleans blues effort with soul and R&B everywhere. There's an elegant rawness to Blues Lights for Yours and Mine that's missing from much modern blues, taking the genre back to the street in a plain brown bag holding what looks suspiciously to be a malt liquor can. Davis Coen sings in divey tones and plays guitar with a slippery finesse that eludes definition, more like a modern reflection of elder black musicians when they were lean, hungry, and hallucinating. Lance Ashley adds in some righteous organ, and Joe Izzo bashes the drums with a meaty hand and organic pulse.
Half the songs here are trad and half written by Coen or other of his more contemporary penmen. Mambo Jumbo, a Coen cut, is jumpin' and insistent while buttery smooth, Coen cutting between bayou vocals and a wail. The chestnut Jack of Diamonds is vigorous and thoroughly genuine with shimmering slide weaving through every bar, as back-room and snaky as has ever been committed to a recording of this classic. Coen can really manipulate that axe, and I'm at times reminded of Bernie Pearl's smoking lead phrasing.
Blues Lights was recorded in 2007 but often sounds as though rescued from late 60s obscurity, a mutant mid-point between Kim Simmonds, the Band, a great bar band, and swamp revivalists. Brother Trevor Coen's piano on New Shoes Blues is a cross of honky-tonk and whorehouse night parlor while Davis' electric intro to "Accelerated Woman" is pure experimental 60s bluesrock with marvelous slop and biting passion.
This is a CD that's a rarity, crossing genre boundaries effortlessly while reinvesting the true roots with interpretive power. I haven't heard anything quite this unique in a while, a marriage of the Woes (here) and Pearl's killer 2006 Somebody Got to Do It! (here), genuine as hell and a reminder that, as good as the dirty white evolution of the form has been, there's still a lot to be unearthed in the root exposition.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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