|I/You/We Need This!
As a teen in the turbulent sixties, British guys in matching suits and big amplifiers were my initial exposure to the Blues. I thank the higher powers everyday for the return of indigenous music to the American consciousness. Since then I've been predisposed to electric Blues music with an emphasis on guitar instrumentals. Many purists label this as masturbation and pooh-pooh the dismissal of acoustic music as snobbery. OK, I'm a snob ... and since self-manipulation is practiced by everyone (not at the same time or the earth would fall off its axis), how can it be bad?
That said, this mostly vocal AND acoustic CD rocks with a sexual vitality and power not heard in years. Hooking up with guitarist and producer Colin Linden (he seems to be a Canadian version of Don Was lately) has produced a recording that is honest, soulful, and seductive. With a rich choice of material, Janiva Magness' expressive voice goes from mournful to joyous without a hitch.
Some tunes, like the title track, have an Appalachian via Mississippi sparseness in their instrumentation that allows plenty of room for her voice. Evidently, long-time partner, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Turmes hasn't lost his sense of humor either. "Less and Less of You" and "Eat The Lunch You Brought" are keen examples of his comedic mindset. Even the ballads are cool, as is her once again "minimalist" approach to "One More Heartache." A tune once indelibly printed on my brain by Paul Butterfield and Marvin Gaye now has some worthy company.
I/you/we need to see Ms. Magness perform the bump and grind Blues of "You Ain't Lost Nothing" and "Everything Gonna Be Alright," but my favorite is the quirky opening tune with Turmes' incredible baritone sax, "A Woman Knows." Wow! I haven't been able to stop playing that one for whoever will stand still long enough to listen. I think I/you/we need to see her perform that one, too.
Bury Him At The Crossroads is an exceptionally wide-ranging CD that would stand up to anything in your collection even without the six-string "wanking" I love. Janiva Magness' 2004 Handy nomination as Best Contemporary Blues Female Artist is a mere precursor to her winning it ... and if the Handy awards strive for relevance, it should be soon!
Rated: 8 out of 10