Sunday, May 20, 2007

Watermelon Slim - The Wheel Man (Northern Blues, 2007)

Mush mouthed blues singer and instrumentalist Watermelon Slim named his band The Workers very aptly. Their working class combination of blues and country music is perfect for the mix of tunes he sings about work, crime and broken hearts. His public service song "Drinkin' and Drivin'" shows he's not just a run of the mill party-hearty bluesman, as do the allusions to a shady past on the title track "Wheel Man" and the song "Fast Eddie." He takes some well deserved shots at politicians in his somber post-Katrina song "Black Water" and wonders why his tax dollars are going to fund a foolish war in "Judge Harsh Blues." "Truck Drivin' Mama" and the strangely effective acapella "Sawmill Holler" continue in a populist vein. Slim is not pretending to be anything other than what he is, a working stiff taking things one day at a time. There is a lot of variety on the CD, using a lot of different configurations of instruments like solo guitar and vocals on "Judge Harsh Blues" and gospel-tinged harmonica and vocals on "Jimmy Bell." This is a very effective and well done modern blues album. Slim and the boys are not beholden to any particular style and make full use of the broad canvas that is the blues. This is good music from a powerful and unique group.

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