10 songs – 39 minutes
DeChamp Records DC100114
Stylish guitarist-songwriter Eddie Cotton has been somewhat of a stranger to the recording studio since making major waves in the blues community with two releases – Live At The Alamo Theater and Extra – a decade ago, but he returns with a vengeance with this simply stated, but powerful collection of all-original material, the first release on Grady Champion’s new DeChamp Records label.
A minister’s son, Cotton grew up singing and playing gospel at church and studying the stylings of B.B. King and other blues artists at home. His single-note technique on the six-string developed while taking lessons from King Edward Antoine. Known as “The Blues Picking King,” Antoine is a Mississippi Blues Trail honoree who has toured internationally with his brother Nolan Struck and McKinley Mitchell.
Cotton studied music theory at Jackson State University before serving a stint as minister of music at his father’s church. He uses blues, funk, boogie and R&B to produce a melodic, straightforward, yet fiery brand of soul-blues that speaks directly to the listener. Eddie handles all guitar and vocal work, assisted by Myron Bennett (bass), Samuel Scott Jr. (drums and percussion), Champion and Carlos Russell (harmonica), and Sam Brady (organ).
Eddie’s stinging attack, which might remind you a little of Otis Rush, is on display from the jump as he announces his return in the deliberate slow blues, “Here I Come.” Like the music, the message is simple, but deep: “Here I am/Still on a mission/So determined/To complete my mission./Here I come/You better have some.” The line’s delivered with a sly chuckle. The strong guitar break shows that he means business.
The song “A Woman’s Love” continues Cotton’s unrushed, slightly-behind-the-beat approach that drives the tune forward. It’s a grinding tribute to the empowerment and encouragement he receives with a good lady at his side while facing the roadblocks life presents along the way. The pace quickens dramatically for “Pay To Play,” a rapid-paced shuffle that takes a different view of romance. In this one, Cotton recognizes that the woman is pure trouble: “I’m not going to tell you my real name/I know to you that seems such a shame./But your kind of love has caused me so much pain.”
Platonic love’s the subject of “Friend To The End,” an R&B pleaser in which Cotton testifies that “I’m just a man/And if I’m wrong/Trust I’ll make it right.” Next up, the funky “Get Your Own” will have you heading to the dance floor as Eddie delivers an inspirational message about not giving up until you succeed at whatever it is you’re after.
Cotton adds a big heaping of funk to the monotonic slow blues “My Boo,” which carries forward the blues tradition of a boast in song form. This time, the artist isn’t crooning about being Jody slipping out the back door or making claims about his sexual prowess. Instead, he’s delivering a sweet song of praise for lady whose magic simply won’t quit. That tune’s followed by “Leave Love Alone,” a harmonica-driven warning about the pitfalls of romance set atop a steady driving beat.
The love theme takes another turn with the loping “Back In A Bit.” This time, the singer calls his lady, only to find he’s phoned too late and she’s hooked up with another man. The message continues with “No Love Back,” a reggae-flavored romp that states: “If you give love long enough/And then you’ll see/Love will come/With no love that’s guaranteed.” The disc concludes with the Chicago-style shuffle “Berry So Black,” which delivers a subtle message about race.
Pick this one up. If you have an affinity for straight-ahead blues with a heaping helping of soul, you definitely won’t be disappointed.