While Guy still dominates proceedings with his splendid guitar and banjo, as well as occasional harmonica and keyboards, this new album does feature a few more contributors than on his last outing. Fabrizio Poggi, producer and musical foil on Juba Dance, again brings to the party some splendid harmonica support on Have You Ever Loved Two Women, as does Charlie Musselwhite on a cracking version of Willie Dixon’s Little Red Rooster. This latter track is one of the few that actually plugs into the electricity cables, as much of the album has a rather charming open-air, picnic-in-the-country feel to it, reminiscent of the records that Taj Mahal used to present so effectively in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Nowhere is this more in evidence than on rather lovely Blackberry Kisses, which features just Guy on banjo and entertaining vocals. And where he does introduce his collaborators, they are invariably contributing to the olde-world charm by adding the lovely traditional sounds of mandolin, cello, piano or tuba.
An obvious influence on Guy throughout his career has been Bob Dylan and he has been one of the better interpreters of the songs of His Bobness over a number of years. Here he again pays tribute with a rather nice reading of Lay Lady Lay but Dylan’s influence is also clearly felt in many of Guy’s own songs. Nowhere is this more in evidence on this album than on one of the very best originals included, the rather beautiful I Wish I Hadn’t Stayed Away So Long. This song is a meditation on opportunities missed and was inspired by the pain felt by the death of his mother and that of his friend and inspiration, Pete Seeger.
Other inspirations and musical debts are also acknowledged by Guy in the booklet that is presented as part of the nice digi-pack that houses the CD. These include Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotton on the beautifully finger-picked guitar on Maybe I’ll Go and to Sonny Terry on the harmonica-driven Like Sonny Did. And Guy acknowledges the risks he was taking by even attempting his tribute to Tommy Johnson on Cool Drink Of Water, but again he comes up trumps on this, as with everything else on the album (even when he closes the album with a Donovan cover!).
Another fabulous album to add to an already impressive back catalogue. If you need a place to start with Guy Davis, you won't go wrong if you enter here.
Review Date: October 2015