Saturday, July 07, 2007

Duke Robillard - World Full of Blues (Stony Plain, 2007)

Blues guitarist and singer Robillard has investigated many facets of the music over the course of his twenty plus year career. In his work with the band Roomful of Blues and his own solo work, he's covered blues, jazz, rockabilly and everything in-between. On this double disc set, Robillard writes that his "intention was to record a set of music that touched upon nearly all the areas of blues and blues related music that make up my sound." So, over the course of 23 tracks he hits a number of different things - successfully covering the rock influenced blues of Bob Dylan "Everything is Broken" and Tom Waits "Low Side of the Road" and jazz influenced blues of Wardell Grey's "Stoned." His guitar playing ability is very impressive throughout, regardless of what aspect of the blues he is exploring, his soloing is tasteful and well executed. The weak link of the package however, is Robillard's vocals. He is just not a very impressive or expressive singer and that really robs the energy from classics like Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights, Big City" and many of his own original songs that also tend to fall back into cliches in lyrical content as well. So overall it's a bit of a mixed bag. There's some good music here, but the self-indulgent nature of the two disc set takes away the power of the best music by mixing it in with some mediocre songs. Judicious editing down to a strong one disc set would have made for a very good LP, but in its present form it's a set to be sampled with caution.

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