Sometimes it all comes down to the web address: ‘Sweet, sweet acoustic blues’ pretty much sums up this 34-minute platter of harp, guitar, and voice. Even more appropriately for the lowdown, forlorn blues—the website doesn’t appear to exist!
A gently, swinging take of Mississippi John Hurt’s “I’m Satisfied,” kicks off the album, and that is about as contemporary as the set gets, despite half the tracks being originals. This Edmonton duo isn’t worried about sounding modern, fully immersing themselves in and celebrating the pre-amplified blues of the early part of the 20th Century.
Whether laying out a spicy instrumental (“The Lightnin’ Rag”) or moanin’ with local flavour (“Coliseum Station Blues,”) the groove is what appears to matter. One hears some Chicago alongside the breadth of the American south, all blended into a palatable concoction with hints of ragtime and the foundational roots of rock & roll. This is no aimless journey; rather, the duo has methodically explored their influences and preference, picking a lick from there, dropping a familiar riff here, making it their own everywhere.
While it doesn’t get much lonelier than Arthur Blake’s “You Gonna Quit Me Blues,” Dan Shinnan and Willy Ryan do their level best to match it with “100 Days or More” and “Lead Water Blues,” the latter with social commentary infused, no extra charge.
The set closes with a dose of murderin’ (“Delia,”) lovin’ (“Good Gravy,”) and an instrumental drive-by (Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz”) from the blues archive, and one is left wantin’ just a little more.
Recorded within a university radio station studio (CJSR) by the unflappable Miles Wilkinson (and co-produced by he and the duo) this is a bare bones affair: no guests, no fancy tinkering. Rott’n Dan & Lightnin’ Willy is unadorned blues distilled to its essence.
My kinda stuff, then.