Monday, July 14, 2008

Watermelon Slim and the Workers - No Paid Holidays (Northern Blues, 2008)

Watermelon Slim and the Workers play the straight-up workingman's blues, for people who walk the hard road every day and are trying to make ends meet. Slim has been a soldier, truck driver and everything in between, and their latest album continues their mission moving from solo blues to full band accompaniment in the songs. Slim has a couple of political songs on the new record, "Blues for Howard" (Zinn?) and "Bloody Burmese Blues" show him taking a Woody Guthrie like journalistic approach to songwriting and then combining it with a solid blues beat. This narrative impulse carries into a couple of other songs, the melancholy "Dad in the Distance" and the nostalgic "Max the Baseball Clown." Slim hasn't forgotten how to boogie as is aptly demonstrated by the blues standard "Call My Job" and the rockin' "Bubba's Blues." He slows things back down for the confessional spoken word and harmonica of "I Got a Toothache" and "And When I Die." Good stuff to be found here. Slim tries to come across as an Okie good ol' boy sometimes, but it is clear that a lot of thought and effort has gone into his music and that effort has paid off handsomely. Like Guthrie, Hank Williams and Willie Dixon, Slim's songs evoke the soul of America in a way that FOX news could only dream of.

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