14 tracks/ 59:20
Many blues fans will rejoice when they get a listen to the latest offering from the current standard-bearer for a generation of blues artists that created much of the foundation for modern electric blues music. Producer & drummer Tom Hambridge surrounds guitarist Buddy Guy with veterans like Rob McNeely on guitar, Glenn Worf on bass plus Kevin McKendree and Reese Wynans on keyboards. Hambridge had a hand in co-writing most of the tracks with Guy or Richard Fleming.
Backed by a lone guitar, Guy opens the disc eloquently singing the deep blues on the title track, switching from a vintage Fender Stratocaster to an acoustic guitar once the band kicks in. It is the first of many highlights. Next up is a ferocious boogie number with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame joining Guy on “Wear You Out”. Things settle down quickly on “Back Up Mama” as Guy spells out his variation on the back-door man theme while he and McNeely switch between several guitars. He mines a similar vein on “Turn Me Wild,” with Billy Cox on bass and Kenny Greenberg on guitar. Guy goes back to the beginning, singing,”When I was young, I stayed in line, didn’t do no midnight creeping. My Momma had a broomstick beside the bed – let me tell you it wasn’t for sweeping”. Later he adds the telling lines “You can’t pick how they remember you. You just hope someday they do”.
Van Morrison joins Guy for a vocal duet on “Flesh & Bones,” a moving tribute to B.B. King with Guy switching between a 1957 Strat and 1974 Telecaster while the McCrary Sisters supply a heavenly vocal chorus. A sprightly run-through of “(Baby) You Got What It Takes” features vocal interplay between Guy and a sassy Josh Stone. Two tracks benefit from Kim Wilson’s outstanding harp playing. He pays tribute to the Little Walter legacy on “Too Late” before blowing up a storm on “Kiss Me Quick,” with able-bodied support from the leader playing a Gibson ES-335 plus Bob Britt on guitar and Tommy MacDonald on electric bass.
On “Smarter Than I Was,” the band cranks out a swirling, heavy-layered sound as Guy grieves over a broken relationship. Hambridge creates an eerie sonic landscape for the leader’s plea for sanity on “Crazy World”. The horns return on a raucous take of “Thick Like Mississippi Mud,” complete with Guy’s fiery guitar work. Three tracks feature Doyle Bramhall II on guitar and Reese Wynans on a variety of keyboards. “Whiskey, Beer, And Wine” is a thick-toned testimonial to life in blues bars and juke joints powered by Michael Rhodes on bass. Guy ‘s restrained vocal is a highlight on “Crying Out Of One Eye,” a somber reflection on heartbreak.
Guy and Bramhall II switch to acoustic guitars on the closing song. With Wynans on upright piano and Rhodes on bass, Guy is at his best on another superbly executed tribute, “Come Back Muddy”. His emotionally charged performance is another stellar moment on a disc that makes it clear that Buddy Guy still has plenty to say – and is still reminding us of what the blues is all about.
Editor’s Note: This Album is nominated for two Grammy Awards and is also nominated for two Blues Music Awards.