Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – 662
Alligator Records ALCD 5005
14 songs 54 minutes
Already an incomparable talent in his early teens, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram was a star long before he went into the studio to record his first album. Since the release of Kingfish in 2019, he’s reached the stratosphere in the blues world, earning seven Blues Music Awards and a Grammy nomination in the past 18 months alone. But as great as those accomplishments have been, the 22-year-old powerhouse is headed for new heights with this CD.
Written after a grueling 18 months of touring and then at the height of the coronavirus epidemic, Kingfish pours his heart out on 662, delivering universal truths that belie his tender age as he reflects on his travels, his youth in Clarksdale, Miss. – the town’s area code serves as the title, the joy of his successes and the tragedies along the way. “This CD was written…during an incredible time of change and growth, moments both good and bad,” he says, “And I’m a better and stronger person for it.”
Like his debut effort, this one was recorded in Nashville and co-produced by Grammy-winner Tom Hambridge. It’s chockful of the powerful single-note guitar runs fans have come to adore. And as robust as his work on the six-string is, his singing voice is just as strong, proving once again that he’s a talent for the ages.
Kingfish penned all 14 songs in the set, most in partnership with Hambridge, who doubles on percussion. He’s also backed by Kenny Greenberg and Bob Britt on guitars, Marty Sammon on keys, Glenn Worf and Tommy McDonald on bass and Max Abrams and Julio Diaz on horns. Nick Goldston doubling on drums, bass, keys and acoustic guitar and Brooke Stephenson providing backing vocals on the final, bonus cut, a previously released single that pays tribute to his mother and biggest fan, Princess.
“662” drives from the jump as Kingfish describes his hometown as “a river town/Talk about nothin’ to do/Skeeters come out when the sun goes down/Gets awful sticky, too.” Despite its drawbacks, however, he celebrates it and the Delta as the birthplace of the blues. The town’s also prominent in “She Calls Me Kingfish” as the singer strolls the riverbank longing for a lady who once loved him. She’s now nowhere to be found. Like the river, he says, “she wants me when she needs me, leaves me when she’s through,” something that’s emphasized in a blazing mid-tune solo.
Apparently, however, the lady’s not afraid to call and awaking him from his slumbers in “Long Distance Woman,” accusing him of an indiscretion and prompting him to realize it’s time to bring the relationship to a close. The subject and mood change dramatically for the medium-slow “Another Life Goes By,” a complaint about hate, madness and killings that seem to have no end, while Kingfish uses the rocker, “Not Gonna Lie,” as a platform to admit that the blues served as his pathway away from a life of poverty and crime.
The funk kicks in momentarily for “Too Young to Remember, a tribute to the jukes that used to flourish across the Delta, before the barebones, poignant ballad “You’re Already Gone” sees the truth about a failed relationship through a glance in a lady’s eyes. A real man, Kingfish holds nothing back in the percussive shuffle, “My Bad,” admitting that his own actions drove the woman away, “That’s All It Takes,” a soul-blues burner that serves as a confession that he’s still struggling with sadness at the loss of someone dear and fighting to keep others from noticing his pain.
An uptempo song of desire, “I Got to See You,” rips and runs before Kingfish launches into an unhurried warning to a trouble-making liar that “Your Time Is Gonna Come” and imparts a little guidance for would-be musicians in “That’s What You Do” that there are no shortcuts to the blues. “Something in the Dirt” praises Clarksdale once more before the CD closes with the previously released single, “Rock & Roll,” a sweet tribute to his mother who put him on the path he walks today.
No longer the “future of the blues” — as Guitar Player magazine once called him, Kingfish’s time is NOW! One listen to 662 and you’ll know why!