Goin’ Down South – Preacher Got A Gun
7 songs – 32 minutes
Preacher Got A Gun is the fourth release from Chicago-based Goin’ Down South and the band continue to successfully mine the Hill Country Blues-via-Chicago vein that has worked on their previous albums. 2019’s Juke Joint Romp was warmly reviewed in Bluesblast Magazine in June of that year and, despite the arrival of new members Ricky Levi Nelson (bass) and Robert Mickey (lead guitar), the sound pioneered by original members John Liggett (guitar, harp and lead vocals) and Brian Mickey (drums, percussion and backing vocals) remains intact.
The album is relatively short, clocking in at just over half an hour, but there isn’t any filling here. Each track hits a groove and then relentlessly pursues it, often staying on the same chord throughout the song. The title track, for example, is a five-minute vamp that kicks off at pace and does not let up. “Make A Mess” slows the pace down but features the same heavily distorted guitar and insistent drive around a single electric slide riff. This is in-your-face, muscular music that openly acknowledges the obvious influences of the likes of Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside and John Lee Hooker. There aren’t a lot of harmonica solos, but the instrument is used to color the textures and depth of the songs, as on the opener, “Hit The Spot”. The guitar solos, such as on the toe-tapping Canned Heat-style boogie of “Feelin’ Real Good Blues”, constantly hint at the potential to really stretch out in a live setting, but are rightly reined in on a studio recording. Mickey eschews an overdriven lead guitar tone in favour of a very clean sound which works very well in distinguishing the instrument from the heavily distorted rhythm guitar.
The gospel feel to “Shine A Little Brighter”, with its entwining guitars and harmonies offers a different, more uplifting message while the closing track, “The Blues Are Alright”, benefits from a distinctive (but nicely) discordant guitar riff. “Boomtown” manages the neat trick of hinting at the Bo Diddley beat but actually offering something different.
The focus is very much on the rhythm and the groove, rather than instrumental virtuosity or lyrical depth but this is dancing and drinking music, rather than serious, navel-gazing introspection or an exercise in musical gymnastics.
Excellently engineered by Scott Herschler at Joe Quality Studio and mastered by John McCortney at AirWave Recording, there is an enjoyable looseness-with-attitude to the performances on Preacher Got A Gun that gives successfully the impression of a live recording. No doubt, Goin’ Down South must be a treat to see live. While we wait for live music to start up again, Preacher Got A Gun is a more than acceptable alternative.