Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Markus James - Snakeskin Violin (Firenze, 2008)

Roots musician Markus James collaborated with both American and Malian musicians in the development of this album, which moves through an ambitious mélange of blues, world music and roots rock. The stomping “Are You Ready” and the ominous sounding back porch acoustic “Weather Vane” with its sharp slide guitar and harmonica are highlights with their strong instrumental playing and emotional vocals. “I Won’t Let It” also works well, blending spoken word, proto-rap and call and response to a powerful blues beat with good effect. “Drivin’ By” gets an otherworldly moodiness with keening violin and chanted and sung African vocals in the background. The interesting mix of James gritty singing voice and the beautiful vocalizations of the African musicians helps this album take on a hypnotic, trance like groove. This is an interesting album, many people speak of Africa as the roots of the blues, but few go as far as James in collaborating and reaching out to modern day African musicians.
Snakeskin Violin - amazon.com

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