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Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes: It Is What It Is (Blue Front Records)

Blues as gloriously undiluted as moonshine whiskey.

Listening to Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes wail, play harmonica, and pick on his guitar, it’s hard to believe this is a new album from a contemporary artist. It Is What It Is could have arrived direct from the 20s, that’s how strongly Holmes evokes the Bentonia country blues tradition of which he is the greatest living exponent. The only concession to modern technology is the electric guitar he plays to menacing effect on Bobby Brown and It Had To Be The Devil, but it’s still an incredibly raw experience. It’s just Holmes and the blues, the production so sparse you can hear the buzz of his fingers on the strings. A hypnotic, visceral album, rich in darkness, malevolence and power.