Eddie 9V – Little Black Flies
Ruf Records – 2021
12 Tracks; 48 minutes
When Atlanta native, Eddie 9V, made the album Little Black Flies, he set out to capture the feel of hearing his band live in a bar, and he succeeded. There are no overdubs or correction of mistakes, the casual comments by band members made between the songs were left on the recording, and at the end of the last song you can even hear bottle caps hitting the floor. For this blues party, Eddie gathered together nine extremely talented musicians, (Including Cody Matlock on guitar and bass, Jackson Allen on Harp, Tedeschi Trucks bassist Brandon Boone, and Chad Mason on Organ and Fender Rhodes). Although he has said this was their first time playing together in months because of the quarantine, you would never guess that. And, while all the musicians did a wonderful job, it is Eddie’s distinctive voice that really makes this album special.
The nine originals and three cover songs include a mix of soul blues and standard Chicago blues styles. It opens with what sounds like a standard soul love song; however, a closer listen to the lyrics of this title track reveals a quite heavy topic. It describes how Eddie was in love with a woman who lived upstairs, and he could hear her being beaten by her lover. This song ends with Eddie trying to rescue her but getting shot by her man. That’s not the only song in which he sneaks in some very meaningful lyrics. The catchy tune in “3 am in Chicago” might make you think it must be a famous cover, but it is an original song about racial inequality: “A house in the ghetto, no lights on inside. A house in the suburbs. You will hear no children cry.” Additionally, “Columbus Zoo Blues” is a traditional slow blues song that begins with lighthearted talk about getting high, but ends with the sad reality of the conditions animals must endure at zoos.
Of course, no blues album would be complete without at least one song about love gone wrong. On the track “Reach into Your Heart,” Eddie’s voice seems to cry with emotion as he sings “I gave you my soul, and you said you wanted more.” A beautiful guitar solo is well placed in that song. The album also includes great renditions of Albert King’s “Travelin’ Man,” “Miss James” (written by Lewis & Thompson, but best known for being covered by Howlin’ Wolf), and a great, more energized version of Jimmy Reed’s “You Don’t Have to Go.”
There really is not a significant flaw anywhere on this album. Even the photos on the album cover are intriguing, with my favorite being the sign listing everything that is prohibited: “No Loitering, No Rollerblading, No Halter Tops, No Hoodies, No texting, No Kids,” (and many more things which are not allowed). This album will make you want to find out where Eddie 9V is playing next, and then do everything you can to attend the show. It will also make you want to root for him to win that Sean Costello Rising Star Award for which he was not surprisingly nominated.