CD: 14 Songs, 51:54 Minutes
Styles: Blues Covers, Country Blues, Debut Album, Solo Album
Milled corn, sugar, malt flavor, and salt. These are the ingredients of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, “The Original and Best.” A single preservative notwithstanding, this simple recipe has nourished generations who need to get “crowin’ in the mornin’,” like the old commercial said. I’m Coming Back Home, the debut album from Mississippi’s Little Willie Farmer, also has four ingredients: dry singing, sweet acoustic guitar, run-of-the-mill blues covers, and just a sprinkling of original songs for freshness. Why have cereal lovers consumed Corn Flakes for decades, while faddish offerings like Star Wars Cereal (yes, it exists) come and go? The basics are the best, the most satisfying, that keep people coming back for more. That’s the good news, both in terms of the Kellogg’s product and Farmer’s CD. The bad news is that while the fourteen songs here have a classic taste, even the new ones, they’re not very filling. What’s missing? Feelings. True blues comes from the heart, not just the mouth and the shredder strings. Besides, if we’re to sink our teeth into “Little School Girl” and “Rock Me Baby”, they’d better have a little more powerhouse protein and less flat-vocal fiber to feed our souls.
When it comes to a quintessential blues artist, the type most people think of right away, the image is one of an African-American from one of the Southern states – most notably Mississippi. That’s where Farmer hails from, specifically Duck Hill. He was born in 1956 and learned the blues from his Uncle Waldo, according to his brief promo info blurb. Waldo also influenced Leo “Bud” Welch, whose album Live at the Iridium won rave reviews from yours truly. As for Little Willie, he first played church songs, and then performed blues with artists such as Johnnie Billington, Bobby Rush, and Lynn White. A booklet that comes along with the CD reveals, “Little Willie has also used his talent to help others in the community learn how to play guitar, including a local neighbor who is seeing-impaired. He would like to see his music grow by teaching others how to play and preserving his cultural heritage.”
Since this is a solo album, Farmer naturally takes center stage on this original ditty:
Track 14: “Obama – The President Song” – Okay, this comes a year too late, but I’m going to review it anyway. Even though Obama may no longer be President, the sentiments in number fourteen were shared by a lot of Americans. “He trying to make a change, but he need help, like we all do. He ain’t trying to misuse nobody, but you know, some people don’t care. They just want all they can get and more. They got no heart for the poor people.” I like the echo effect on Farmer’s guitar, but other than that, this (polemic? Speech? Ballad?) is like the weird-looking marshmallow in a box of cereal. Even though it tastes good, you can’t really tell what it is.
I’m Coming Back Home needs a little more feeling, and less filler, to be a truly hearty CD.