GUY DAVIS Kokomo Kidd

The gruff-voiced acoustic bluesman spins yarns amid pleasant fingerpicking.

TODO alt text

The fact that he dedicates his new album to Pete Seeger should clue you in: Guy Davis’ music, with its rag-influenced lope, banjo-and-guitar interplay and emphasis on storytelling, owes as much to classic folk as to rural blues.

As the New York native eases into his elder-statesman years, his songwriting keeps growing richer. He creates an unforgettable character on the humorously swaggering title track, about a smuggler helping Beltway bigwigs get their kicks in Prohibition-era Washington DC, and is wry and nuanced on Like Sonny Did, a tribute to the great Sonny Terry.

Davis’ blues isn’t of the gutbucket variety – his take on Little Red Rooster, featuring Charlie Musselwhite on lean, mean harp, is far too polished to resemble Howlin’ Wolf’s – but if you appreciate music that’s tastefully arranged, songs like the romantic Blackberry Kisses or the John Hurt-style Maybe I’ll Go might just draw you into Davis’ corner of the blues world.