SWEETHEART LIKE YOU
RED HOUSE (RHRCD211)
Sweetheart Like You, Slow Motion Daddy, Follow Me Down, Sweet Hannah, Bring Back Storyville, Words To My Mama's Song, Down South Blues, Hoochie Coochie Man, Steamboat Captain, Can't Be Satisfied, Baby Please Don't Go, Angels Are Calling, Goin' Back To Silver Spring, Ain't Goin' Down.
Guy Davis is one of those bluesmen who can write a soul-stacked heart-breaker like "Sweet Hannah" and make it sound like it's been around for years or take a tough Chicago blues like Muddy's "Can't Be Satisfied" and turn it into a banjo reel cakewalk that would rock the-ol-folks-at-home. He might mess with the blues but he always makes it sound great. I didn't think I wanted to hear yet another cover of "Baby Please Don't Go" but this arrangement, filled with unexpected chord changes, stunning six string guitar work and crazy call-and-response vocals, make it a joy. He's honed the technique of taking someone else's song and re-jigging it for his own style. Opening track "Sweetheart Like You" is a perfect example with Guy's tough gruff vocals and slightly nervy phrasing adding a new blue-collar edge to the Bob Dylan classic.
On this CD he also tinkers around with tunes by Son House and Willie Dixon and, judging by "Ain't Goin' Down", he's been listening to Leadbelly too. This one's an old field holler with vocals that express the exhausted rage of a world-weary sharecropper but instead of a Leadbelly hollerin' style, Davis's taut voice, together with the lightness of the mandolin and guitar picking, seem to give it an intent and determination that's lacking in the original. My favourite, though, is the slightly saucy "Slow Motion Daddy" which is littered with sly double entendres and some clever moves in the music - like the bit where he transforms some Sonny Terry-like whooping fox-chase harmonica into the sound of the frenzied moans of an over excited bed-mate.
I've always liked Guy Davies and he hasn't let me down. It's another worthwhile album of very classy stuff!
Review Date: March 2009