Guy Davis: Legacy (2004)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Nothing sounds so simple but yet is so complex as the country/acoustic blues; and one of today's best ambassadors for this style has released his seventh album, Legacy. Guy Davis' newest offering possesses all the traits that makes him one of the best: a gruff, authentic vocal quality and adept, dexterous guitar playing (later in the album to include the reintroduction of the banjo). Davis' consistency in releasing quality, top of the line authentic blues records continues.
To add to the compelling music is the modern day story that surrounds how it was put together. Davis' manager, perhaps bored or curious, did a search of his artist's name on a search engine web site, and as I am sure you might be aware, many others share the name Guy Davis. He contacted two of them. One is a cartoonist and the other a vintner; both, it turned out, were fans of the blues musician. All three collaboratedone made the recording; the second designed the cover and album art in an R. Crumb style that is an ode to the style and original period; and the third produced a special edition Guy Davis wine (I have not seen the label nor tasted the vintage).
The recording kicks off with the interesting "Uncle Tom is Dead," where Davis can be heard using a talking blues style while he and his son "discuss" the topical timeliness of traditional blues versus today's music, specifically hip hop. While this concept provides some entertaining moments and excellent points, it's not musically as strong as the rest of the recording; but if we take this as an opening salvo or "intro," then the album's served well and fourteen gems follow.
Davis perhaps hits his stride when playing and reinterpreting works of other songwriters, or when he envelops his blues with other styles like folk, old time pop and hints of jazz and country. When Davis surrounds himself with all of these sounds, we find him at his pinnacle as a recording artist. Particularly effective examples include the Lightning Hopkins tune "Come Back Baby," the Sleepy John Estes classic "Drop Down Mama," the Ma Rainey cornerstone piece "See See Rider," and an original with a great tale, "Long As You Get It Done."
In addition to a wonderful piece of recording that plays so well from track one to track fifteen, as most Davis collections do, the entire package is fun. Comic book artist Guy Davis' drawings and minuet in the booklet, where Davis sells his soul to the devil (though at an ATM Machine and fast food joint, not a crossroads), are both appealing and add to the flavor of this album... maybe the Guy Davis wine will be just as tasty!
Track Listing: Uncle Tom's Dead; Pay Day; Run Molly Run; Come Back Baby; Rolling in my Sweet Baby's Arms; I Just Can't Help Loving You; Drop Down Mama; Things About Coming My Way; Red Goose; Hikin' Jerry; I'm Gone; See See Rider; Long As You Get it Done; Cypress Grove; We All Need More Kindness in this World
Personnel: Guy Davis - guitars, vocals, banjo, mandolin and harmonica,
Gary Burke - drums,
Mark Murphy - bass,
Martial Davis - vocal,
David Helper - vocal,
John Platania - guitar,
T-Bone Wolk - vocal,
Zoe B. Zak - vocal
Record Label: Red House