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Blues Round-up: September 2011

Henry Yates on new releases from Giles Robson & The Dirty Aces, Warren Haynes, Buddy Whittington, Storm Warning and Hadden Sayers

Giles Robson & The Dirty Aces: Crooked Heart Of Mine

A bleeding racket in the wrong hands, it’s refreshing to hear the harmonica clamped between young, taut, British lips that know how to blow, and even better when those lips are wired to a musical brain that thinks outside the blues-box. Some might say Giles Robson is a lucky bastard in a leather jacket – opening track The Mighty Incinerator received an adrenalin-shot airing on two national radio shows last year – but he deserves the platform, both for his stellar harp work and original co-writes. There’s enough here to placate the old farts on wheezes like Stick To The Promise, but loose reference points keep this record on its toes, with a funk swagger in the heels of Swindler For You and a whiff of Canvey Island on the aforementioned Incinerator. We hate to think of ourselves as endorsing the opinion of Chris Evans, but this is superior stuff and, you suspect, the start of big things. It would take a truly crooked heart not to fall for this. (810)

Warren Haynes: Man In Motion

As southern rock’s most prolific pie-fingerer, you’ll surely forgive Haynes for his 18-year hiatus between solo albums. This one, he reckons, prioritises the vocal over the guitar, though in practice, like all axe gods who try to rein it in, he just can’t help himself and is stomping his wah pedal to dust by the end of River’s Gonna Rise. It’s not quite the Allmans, but then, what is? (810)

Buddy Whittington: Six String Svengali

Humour: it’s thin ice in the blues, and Whittington’s nudges, winks, asides and arched eyebrows are sometimes a little too chummy. But lighten up: 60s love-letter Back When The Beano Was Boss is impossible to dislike, Deadwood And Wire is a well-observed diatribe on elitist guitar shops, and when the smoky jokes run out, his Bluesbreaker-honed chops keep things bouncing along. (610)

Storm Warning: Strategy

Don’t expect revolution and you’ll enjoy Storm Warning’s third album. It pairs tight musicianship with no-nonsense songwriting and some brilliantly world-weary, oh-so-British lyrics, particularly the henpecked husband of What Have You Done (To Me) who bemoans trading punch-ups and motorbikes for Radio 4 and family hatchbacks. Good stuff, and probably even better live. (610)

Hadden Sayers: Hard Dollar

Hadden Sayers’ press release reads like one of Steve Wright’s sob stories: a tear-streaked tale of bastard promoters, turncoat A&Rs and family members dying in his arms. Somehow, all that industrial-strength tragedy bounces straight off the Houston troubadour, with tail-wagging tracks such as Inside Out Boogie and Crush On You piped direct from his ‘happy place’. (610)