By dint of his lineage and his previous collaborations, Duwayne Burnside had something of a name for himself prior to the release of Acoustic Burnside. He is the son of R.L. Burnside, icon of Mississippi Hill Country music, and the offspring was an early member of the like-minded North Mississippi Allstars, founded and fronted by Luther and Cody Dickinson, sons of another musical hero named Robert Johnson with a slightly different titlehearkens to the early king of slide guitar, Elmore James, not to mention the multiplicity of musicians who have covered it over the years, including but not limited to the early blues-oriented lineup of Fleetwood Mac and Texas titans ZZ Top.
Burnside's renditions of these durable songs are equally affectionate and unaffected. His singing cuts to the emotional core of the compositions, even as his dextrous guitar work articulates those emotions words cannot: in that most practical sense, he is keeping alive the spirit of their authors and interpreters. To that end, he often sounds entranced by the music himself as he plays and sings tunes like "See My Jumper Hanging On The Line."
Given Duwayne Burnside's deeply-ingrained affinity for songs such as those, as well as "Stay All Night," the natural ease and fluency of his performances is no surprise. Nevertheless, his performances speak to his own independence and authenticity and, as such, they are in stark contrast to so many purveyors in the contemporary realm of this elemental genre, with their poseur antics which suggest they cut their teeth on The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood.
Recorded over an of approximately fifteen-month period, around Duwayne Burnside's home in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Acoustic Burnside constitutes a self-professed rebirth. But, from a wider perspective, this roughly sixty-minutes is also a bonafide primer on the blues as means of personal expression. For instance, on the largely guttural likes of "She Threw My Clothes Out," the strings of Burnside's instrument sing with as much sonority as his weathered voice, and his fingerpicking is as resonant as his vocals, the singing echoing eternal truths in much the same way his vigorously rhythmic strumming bespeaks his own cumulative life experience(s).
Little wonder that, at the conclusion of that latter cut, Duwayne laughingly describes those sounds as ..."the past and the future." Burnside's previous alliances with brother Garry and his Grammy-winning nephew Cedric, as well as Junior Kimbrough's sons Kinny and Robert, allow him to condense his arrangements to their essence, even when they include bassist Pinkie Pulliam ("Alice May") or pianist Dan Torigoe ("Lord Have Mercy On Me").
The brevity of such cuts as "44 Pistol" (less than three minutes) belies the emotional depth to which their expression penetrates. And lines like "'I'm so glad this mornin' I don't know where in the world to go!.." remind us that the blues is based as much on the joy of life as its "Bad Bad Pain" duly noted in the title of the very next track. Such purposeful album sequencing aside, there's an air of gleeful spontaneity pervading Acoustic Burnside that ultimately turns the LP into an absolutely addictive listen.
Going Down South; See My Jumper Hanging on the Line; Poor Black Mattie; She
My Clothes Out; Alice Mae; Dust My Broom; Meet Me in the City; Stay All Night; She
Threw My Clothes Out (Alternative Take); 44 Pistol; Bad Bad Pain; Lord Have Mercy
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