Our look back at the best tracks of the year continues with some of the bluesiest
Hat Fitz And Cara Robinson - Friday Night The opening track from Do Tell - one of the best blues/folk/roots albums of the year - finds the Aussie Irish duo mixing some gospel, soul and sobbing slide guitar ingredients for a recipe that recalls classic Bonnie Raitt. Few artists since The Band disregard tiresome genre divisions so brilliantly.
**Joe Bonamassa - Different Shades Of Blue As for as the guitar hero thing goes, Joe Bonamassa has little left to prove. The title track of his first album of all original material [bar a brief Hendrix opener] proves that he’s nailed the songwriter thing too. The spine-tingling arrangement wraps around Joe Bo’s best song since 2012’s Driving Towards The Daylight.**
Long John Laundry - Howl Think what it’d be like if the Exile On Main Street-era Stones hooked up with Howlin’ Wolf and let The Stooges sit in on a boogie woogie jam sesh. Now you’re close to getting what this track from Mr Laundry’s 2013 album Coco’s Corner has in store. Check out the recently released Voodoo Charm record too. Unfortunately, LJL is a little shy in the promo video department, so here’s a little Holy Moly to try on my size.
No Sinner - Runnin’ Of the many big-lunged lassies pressurised by the ‘new Janis Joplin’ mantle this year, No Sinner’s Colleen Rennison is the one with the chops to do the comparison justice. Listen to her take command of this T-Rex-esque boogie however and you’ll find a singer with her own thing going on.
Black State Highway - Ain’t Got No The late 80s rock and metal scene had more blues influence in it than you might think [remember Cinderella’s Gypsy Road?]. The multi-national, and Brighton based, Black State Highway nail that blues on stun vibe of that era with some paint-stripping vocals from the excellent Liva Steinberga.
Ian McLagan & The Bump Band - I’m Your Baby Now The loss of the Small Faces and Faces Hammond genius is still raw. While Ian McLagan will rightly be remembered for his work with those two iconic bands, the brooding blues of I’m Your Baby Now, from his 2014 album United States, reminds us that Mac was cutting great music right up to the end. A true geezer.
Imelda May - It’s Good To Be Alive The Irish rockabilly queen cut her teeth singing Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters blues as a teenager. Those roots add real depth to her delivery on this rockabilly stomper flavoured with gospel and 50s R&B; Imelda is this generation’s Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Her husband Daryl Higham’s guitar licks here are incendiary as ever.
Jarekus Singleton - I Refuse To Lose One of two hot new signings to the legendary Alligator Records - the other is Selwyn Birchwood - here Singleton tops his electrifying blues with sweet soul and throbbing funk layers. I Refuse To Lose documents his triumph over injury and introduces a genuine rival to current ‘saviour of the blues’ poster boy Gary Clark, Jr.