Jarekus Singleton: Refuse To Lose

New blues you can’t refuse.

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You can hardly move for the ‘next big things’ on the contemporary blues scene. Every now and then however, even the most cynical eardrums pick up on something interesting that manages to cut through the PR-generated white noise. Last year it was Gary Clark, Jr. This time around it’s young Mississippian guitarist and singer Jarekus Singleton.

Like Clark, Singleton seasons his blues gumbo with just the right pinch of soul, funk and hip-hop. The muscular throb of opener I Refuse To Lose sets the scene for much of this confident debut for the Chicago-based bluesman. There are shades of 70s Buddy Guy, Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield, late period Robert Cray, even Prince, in the kid’s grooves.

Keep Pushin’ is driving funk of the first order while the mid-tempo Blame Game, the most outright bluesy blues track on the record, is nobly saved from cliché by Singleton’s singular percussive guitar licks. Elsewhere, soulful potbloiler Crime Scene hits like something Buddy Guy or BB King would have discharged at their most badass.

Alligator Records is an imprint of supreme quality and vision, and once again label boss Bruce Iglauer has, ahem, snapped up a genuine talent. Refuse To Lose is what great black blues and funk should sound like.

Ed Mitchell

Ed Mitchell was the Editor of The Blues Magazine from 2012-16, and a contributor to Classic Rock and Louder. He died in October 2022, aged 52. A one-time Reviews Editor on Total Guitar magazine from 2003, his guitar-modding column, Ed’s Shed, appeared in print on both sides of the Atlantic (in both Total Guitar and Guitar World magazines), and he wrote stories for Classic Rock and Guitarist. Between them, the websites Louder, MusicRadar and Guitar World host over 400 of his articles – among them interviews with Billy Gibbons, Paul Weller, Brian Setzer, profiles on Roy Buchanan, Duane Allman and Peter Green, a joint interview with Jimmy Page and Jack White, and dozens of guitar reviews – and that’s just the ones that made it online.