John McVey – Meet Me in Houston | Album Review

johnmcveycd John McVey – Meet Me in Houston

 Sedgwick/Artists International

 CD: 12 songs; 66:29 Minutes

 Styles: Texas Blues, Traditional Blues

 “I first heard of John [McVey] around 2006 in Austin,” comments Andrew Reed, producer of Texas blues maverick McVey’s latest album Meet Me in Houston. In the CD liner notes he continues, “I had an event in town and my Texas chaperones assured me a good time and that I would be back at the hotel by 10:30 so I’d be fresh for my audience the next day…I consented but didn’t expect anything special, being a bit desensitized to hype at this point. What I heard and felt blew my head off. It was hardcore Texas blues, a bit jagged and full of passion. I got back to my hotel at 3:30 AM.” Need more be said about this veteran of the Chitlin’ Circuit? Actually, yes: according to his website, John was mentored by blues legends Larry Davis and Albert King. He and his band, also consisting of drummer Barry “Frosty” Smith and bassist James Cloyd, Jr., present thirteen pure Lone Star State selections – eight originals and four covers, plus an acoustic ghost track, including “Same Thing” by Willie Dixon and “Blue Guitar” by Earl Hooker. McVey proves himself versatile across a gamut of blues styles: electric, acoustic, vocalized and instrumental. The following three songs are not only top picks on the album, but accurate representatives of his overall musical range.

Track 01: “Bayou Boogie!” – Perfect for live concerts either indoors or out, this spicy wordless masterpiece will get people dancing even if they have two left feet. Sounding neither trite nor overproduced, it strikes the perfect balance between powerhouse riffs and a tune that’s as catchy as a cold. The echoing effect on McVey’s lead guitar is a quirky plus, especially at the end. According to the liner notes, Aaron Price from Asheville plays keys. 

Track 08: “I Don’t Stutter” – Some musicians have a slick style, both lyrically and vocally, but not John. This in-your-face, guilty pleasure ditty with a funky bass line proves just how much McVey avoids glibness: “I don’t care what you think about me. I got a woman thinks the world of me. I don’t care if you know who I am. I don’t stutter; I don’t give a damn.” In this age of a manufactured need for constant exposure, especially for celebrities, “I Don’t Stutter” is a refreshing rebuttal. 

Track 12: “Walking in the Footsteps” – When it comes to the final song of “Meet Me in Houston”, simplicity is beauty. Featuring a pensive acoustic line and understated vocals, this is a moving tribute to John’s father, whom he never had the chance to meet. “Was there hard times for my father? Sure there must have been. Wonder if in his life, he found a lover or friend.” 

“If you want to hear real Texas blues,” Andrew Reed exults, “without the glitter and turd polishing of modern recording…put on John McVey.” Well said!

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