Right from the git, Colin Linden steps down into bayou deltas with the mesmerizing title cut, a welter of repeating blues chords boosting his mournful voice. Up jumps the middle eight and from it slithers a snaky slide as the timbral night grows darker, deeper, and spookier. A second set of sidebars erupts as ghosts and goblins emerge in psychedelic fogs, screeching and ululating hither and yon, setting up midnight shop in Gris Gris Central, selling bad-ass juju. By the time everything settles down for the second track, you're laboring to catch your breath, wondering Who is this guy???"
Well, this is Linden's 11th solo effort, and the past has seen him sitting in on over 300 sessions for other musicians, producing 70 of them. His A Tribute to Howling Wolf CD received a Grammy nomination, and he joined in on the O' Brother Where Art Thou disc, considered by many to be a unique outing. From the Water encapsulates everything he's done so far, though it's not an anthology disc. Rather, the release is a summit look-back and progression, a disc showcasing his wide range in the genre, from acoustic roots music to John Martyn-ish progressive folk blues. In fact, Martyn has few peers but Colin Linden tends to be one of them when he's of a mind to get outre.
The Taj Mahal-ish Smoke Em All is a bouncy cut with recessed horns and a funky hop-skip acoustic guitar reminiscent of Bernie Pearl, pure 100% blues under the hand of a master with a modern ear. In various tracks, more than once I get a strong whiff of Ry Cooder and then the guy veers to David Bromberg (catch the rollickin' Trouble Always Comes in Threes)! Barely a corner of the rootsy fundament is left unaddressed in the 14 cuts, produced to a heron-infested mangrove fare-thee-well by Linden himself. If you're familiar with the Yellow Dog label, he's of an ilk with those highly variegated pluckers, shouters, stompers, peyote shamans, and hoodoo devils.
Some time ago, I reviewed a CD by a guy who deserves a lot more press, Paul Reddick (here), and the guy deps on harmonica here, as well as co-writing one of the cuts. Nice to see Linden recognizes unusual talent, but then he nabbed a full menu of great sidemen and even the Memphis Horns, so this goes without saying. So, when you want a vacation from norms, desiring the trad interspersed with the daring, this is the disc you're looking for, and it wouldn't hurt to take a long pull From the Water while you're ambling around in the balmy nights and days.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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