Friday, September 22, 2006

John Mooney - Big Ol' Fiya (CDBaby, 2006)

The very real ups and downs that John Mooney has experienced in his life have taught him the real meaning of the blues. Learning to play a mean slide guitar and sing with passion at the foot of the legendary Son House, Mooney's professional career has been one of fits and starts, thrilling CD's and passionate concerts and longs gaps of silence while the personal demons were dealt with. This most recent comeback finds him with a self produced CD that emphasizes rhythm and vocals over his protean slide guitar playing. The songs however, are still as strong as ever. Although it's not an explicit tribute as many records in the wake of Katrina have been, the atmosphere of New Orleans, Mooney's adopted hometown, pervades the music.

"2 Get 2 Heaven" opens the disc with Mooney directly confronting his problems over a boiling shuffle groove. "Big ol' Fiya" and "Dig My Way 2 China" are more traditional blues songs with some great lyrical turns, especially in the latter where he plaintively sings that his baby has him down so low that he's going to dig a hole to China to escape her. You can't get much more traditional that "Louise McGhee" either, one of Son House's classic tunes and here Mooney does his old mentor proud with a stripped down version of this famous blues song. "Drink a Little Poison (4 U Die)" is another song of note, with some killer New Orleans flavored drumming and a sing-a-long chorus. This is fine stuff from the always interesting John Mooney and fans of delta of swamp blues shouldn't hesitate. Hopefully he'll stick around for a while this time and grace us with some more great music soon.

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