Self-Release – 2018
10 tracks; 37 minutes
Willie May is certainly prolific! It does not seem very long ago that this reviewer was writing about his all-ukelele album Maiuke and his website shows that since then he has released another album in between. New County Blues is Willie’s 19th album release and combines new and previously released material “directed at fans preferring the Country/Americana side of the blues spectrum”. Willie wrote and produced all the material, handles lead vocals and plays guitar, dobro and jaw harp; he is joined by drummer Randy Bolam, acoustic bassist Jim Whitford (who also plays pedal steel on one cut), guitarists Carl Eddy, Paul Iannelo, Doug Yeomans and Dwane Hall; pedal steel player Kenny Peterson, accordion player Leeron Zydeco, viola player Mary Ramsey and multi-instrumentalist Mark Panfil who plays accordion, banjo, dobro and harmonica; backing vocals are added by Dwane Hall, Paul Iannelo and Mary Ramsey.
There are country rock tunes like “Plenty Of Problems” that rock along very pleasantly with Paul Iannelo’s country-tinged guitar. “Looking For Jesus” is pure country with weeping pedal steel and viola and a wry lyric about looking for salvation yet not wanting it just yet, Willie waking up “in a house of ill repute” and hoping that Jesus does not find him there! The banjo and whooping vocals on “Wicked Ways”, Willie’s tale of woe out on the road “Don’t Know Where” and the uptempo “Where Did We Go Wrong” are all country tunes but there are also some blues here.
“Gypsy Eyes” uses a tune very similar to Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do” with some solid baritone guitar work over the loping rhythm; “Thirty Days” is country blues with harmonica and jaw harp adding to the insistent drum pattern and “Stop Hurtin’ Me” rocks along pleasantly with banjo and harp supporting Willie’s declaration of love for his girl, despite her obvious flaws. Accordion gives a Louisiana-meets-country feel to tracks like “Get It Ready” and “Smile”, both of which roll along at pace.
Willie has produced a pleasantly listenable album here but it is much more country/Americana than blues.