11 tracks; 48 minutes
Holly Hyatt and Jonathan Barden, from British Columbia, Canada, play acoustic blues in a traditional style, Holly on upright bass and Jon guitar, both sharing vocals. The only additional instrumentation is sax on one track by Clinton Swanson who also gets a credit for loaning the double bass! This is their second release and the material is mainly original, Holly and Jon writing separately and together, alongside two Robert Johnson covers (“If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day”, “Come On In My Kitchen”). Both are straightforward versions but well done. Jon takes the lead vocal on both songs with Holly harmonising on the chorus. Jon also plays some nice slide on both tunes, overdubbed on “Possession” whereas “Kitchen” is a solo slide guitar piece. Jon’s voice is good and Holly sounds to these ears a little like Susan Tedeschi though the accompanying notes namecheck Eva Cassidy and Aretha as comparisons.
As the duo play traditional acoustic blues the title track “Back To 1929” would seem to be a key song, taking us back to what it would have been like back then. Starting with a field holler about finishing work, Holly then takes us for a Saturday night in the South, shooting dice in the back room with musicians of the period such as Son House and Charley Patton playing in the front. Unfortunately there is also an anachronistic reference to ‘Muddy Waters playing’. However, this song works very well with excellent harmonies and an attractive guitar figure at its centre. Perhaps it was the excitement of that Saturday night experience that is preventing Holly from dropping off in “I Can’t Sleep”!
In the jaunty “Leavin’ Blues” it appears that the first shoots of Spring bring out Jon’s rambling tendencies. In contrast Holly sings about winter coming and a desire to get some home renovations done in “Home Reno Blues” on which the saxophone is a nice addition to the instrumentation. Jon gets serious on “They Is Us” where he concludes that “we’re all in it together” in a world of so many different problems. Again double tracking of his guitars allows Jon to get quite a full sound on this one. The short instrumental “The Resurrection Of Gonzo” may refer to Jon’s guitar which is seen on the cover with a ‘Gonzo’ sticker. Holly leads on the slow “Heartbreaker Blues”, a tale of lost love in which Holly is hoping that some rhythm and blues may make her man return but it sounds a hopeless case! Holly sings particularly well on “Wash Over Me” which is a more contemporary song than is typical here and shows that the duo may have another string to their bow beyond straight blues.
This well produced CD should appeal to acoustic blues fans who enjoy hearing new songs done in traditional style.