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Jarekus Singleton: Refuse To Lose

New blues you can’t refuse.

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.