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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
This duo consists of Libby Rae Watson from Pascagoula, Mississippi, who was mentored in the blues by the late, great Sam Chatmon, the last surviving member of The Mississippi Sheiks (of 1930’s ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’ fame), and hence the reason behind the opening track, ‘Mr. Sam’s Blues’. Many years ago I recall buying an album of field recordings made by Sam in the 70s, and this is very similar, without being totally imitative – Libby and the other half of the duo, Wes Lee, trade vocal lines on this nicely enthusiastic number. Libby told me that everything on the album is just her and Wes, and there is a lovely vintage sound and feel throughout the album - try Wes’ feature, ‘Won’t Be Worried Long’ (Wes himself is a traditional blues specialist). In fact, strictly speaking, with only six tracks, this is an EP release. ‘Bluesman In My Graveyard’ leans a little more towards Americana, ‘You Don’t Rock My World’ demonstrates a Memphis Jug Band influenced sound, with a lovely vocal by Libby, and ‘Worrying Times’ has Wes’ gritty vocal dealing with global concerns, but treated at a gospel level of “help your neighbour”, and a musical saw adding a very effective spooky sound to the backing. The closing ‘Big Joe’ is a wonderful spoken and sung recollection of how Libby first met legendary bluesman Big Joe Williams. Overall, this CD is lovely, warm blues release, the kind of album that comes along all too rarely these days, and that is most definitely our loss.
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