Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Charlie Musslewhite - Delta Hardware (Real World, 2006)

Charlie Musslewhite has been on the blues scene for close to forty years now, and his latest album continues his career long melding of his deep south roots and the rough and tumble blues he developed in the clubs of Chicago playing with the likes of Big Joe Williams in the 1960's. Musslewhite has long been an advocate of the working class, writing songs and playing music about the hard times and the good times of life in America. He has one of his strongest songs in this area on this album with "The Invisible Ones" about the plight of the working classes in America. "Black Water" takes a look at the impact of Hurricane Katrina and those that were left behind in the wake of the government foul-up.

"Good Blues Tonight" lightens the load a little with some groove based blues. Along with "Church Is Out" and "Town to Town" this song shows that the blues is just as good for having a good time as it is for social protest. The band is solid and cuts a rock-hard groove, while Charlie's harmonica is as expressive as ever with plenty of swooping and stinging solos. The only quibble I have with the album is with the production. The vocals seem a little distant and separate from the music at times which give things a disjointed feel. I understand how albums are made (sort of like sausage, right?) with vocal booths and mixing boards, but something should have been done to better integrate the vocals and the music into a more closely hewn organic whole. But overall it's a small quibble amidst a solid blues album.

Send comments to: Tim