CD: 11 Songs, 39:35 Minutes
Styles: Traditional Electric Blues, Swing, Ragtime “For the 21st Century”
Philadelphia native Richard “White Boy” White may be Caucasian, but that’s not how he sounds when he sings. If one were to listen to his first debut solo album, Till I Find My Dyin’ Bed, without glancing at the CD cover first, one would swear he was African-American. His vocals are far more reminiscent of Ray Charles’ than Charlie Musselwhite’s, for instance. White brings a distinctive pre-war blues sound to his music, with pointed but sometimes muffled lyrics, and familiar, earthy subjects updated for the digital age. He presents eleven total tracks: eight originals and three covers (“Hellhounds on my Trail,” “Catfish Blues,” and “Statesboro Blues”). Overall, this album is fantastic for a trip down a dusty country road, especially where lonesome spirits might travel at night. One drawback is that a couple of songs sound alike, but no matter. When one is “in the zone,” either as a performing musician or a listener, similarity is soothing.
One thing fans won’t find many of on this CD are what White Boy White calls “guitar hero solos.” In the liner notes, he explains, “True blues was never about that. I am not anti-solo, but I’m determined to treat them as an integrated part of the entire sound. This album, rather, adopts an old-timey ritual of interweaving licks and mini-solos from every musician throughout the entire song.” When White does play solos, one senses they’re highlights of their respective songs, not stand-alone, rip-roaring riff fests that people might practice at home on their own shredders.
Performing alongside White Boy White, on lead vocals and guitar, are producer Jr. Charley on second guitar, Tom Mendy on upright bass, Marcel Redondo on drums, Bert Deivert on mandolin, and J.J. White, Debbie Bond on additional backing vocals.
The following three songs combine “old-timey” charm with new-millennium flair.
Track 01: “Smart Phone Song” – With a jangling, jarring intro one should never play near people at a restaurant, the opener is a tongue-in-cheek ode to the device we can’t do without nowadays. If fans listen to this on headphones, they’ll be thunderstruck by the stereo effects of its ringing and laughter. “If I ever left the house without my old smartphone –now that would be something I couldn’t explain. I would be all alone, without a brain. I would be distraught, if I got caught going down the drain.” Dig Tom Mendy’s sinister upright bass and the slight tango beat.
Track 03: “Shoe My Woman” – Someone’s “little mare” is getting a little restless. It’s a good thing the narrator of this number plans to “shoe” her instead of doing something else that sounds like “shoe.” This is one of the most traditional and danceable ditties on this CD, starring Bert Deivert on keen mandolin.
Track 04: “Till I Find My Dyin’ Bed” – Yours truly nominates the title track for the Best Guitar award on the CD. The juke-house intro is especially noteworthy, in the most literal sense. “Wake up this morning, catch that Greyhound bus and ride. Got that old evil spirit burning me all down inside.” Every blues fan knows that particular sensation, and track four explains it quite well.
Richard “White Boy” White brings traditional blues to a head on Till I Find My Dyin’ Bed!