Ian Siegal is primarily known in Britain as a blues slash blues-rock based singer-songwriter that also incorporates folk and roots music influences. This solo acoustic concert, largely spurred by fan requests, was recorded by the BBC at The Royal Albert Hall during Bluesfest 2013,and broadcast on Paul Jones’ blues radio program. Armed with a gravelly croak of a voice and dexterous skills on Resonator guitar as well as others, his vigorous approach is endearing. Be it in blues or singer-songwriter mode, Ian is a consummate performer.
He is all fleet-fingered guitar on his energetic “The Silver Spurs”, a song that is chockfull of cowboy and wild west references. His ragged delivery lends the necessary authenticity to the song.
His urgent vocal delivery breathes new life into the traditional “chestnut” “Mary Don’t You Weep”. Near the songs’ conclusion he pounds out the beat on the guitar without losing the song’s momentum. His original “Mortal Coil Shuffle” about meeting one’s maker could pass for an “old timey” tune. He hits a vocal “Mariah Carey note” near the end of the song that ignites a response from the audience.
His readings of Charley Patton’s “Pony Blues”, “Preachin’ Blues/Live So God Can Use You/You Got To Move” and “T’ain’t Nobody’s Business” are spot on. The latter is done ala Taj Mahal’s version, complete with the inclusion of the high-speed hipster rap.
Another original “I Am The Train” is another fast-paced gem. The slow and brooding “Falling On Down Again”, a tale of a hard-luck character, includes snippets of Otis Redding’s “Dreams To Remember” and Sam & Dave’s “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down”.
Dipping back into the singer-songwriter bag he does an interpretation of Tom Russell’s dramatic “Gallo Del Cielo”, a story-song about a legendary cock-fighting rooster. He even manages to give Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times(Come Again No More) a bluesy quality.
After hearing this “unplugged” sample of Ian’s Skills, it makes me eager to hear his usual electric band fare. The presentation here is hard to resist as the songs are delivered with a true sincerity and love of what he is doing.