Blue Star Records – 2017
11 tracks; 41 minutes
Mark Nomad is based in the North East USA but comes originally from Chicago. Over the years he has produced both electric and acoustic albums but this album, his tenth in all, is a solo acoustic affair. Mark plays guitar and occasional harmonica to support his vocals. The material includes some very familiar songs from the masters of Delta blues; Muddy, Wolf, Robert Johnson, Jimmy Reed, etc.
If you are doing an acoustic album and want to include a Muddy Waters tune “Can’t Be Satisfied” is always a good bet and Mark’s version works fine with good vocals and resonator work to give that old Delta feel. “The Little Red Rooster” is Willie Dixon’s song but always associated with Howling Wolf (though many will also link it to The Rolling Stones whose “The Last Time” follows to provide a sort of ‘Stones interlude’ in the set). Both “Rooster” and “The Last Time” are played in relaxed versions which work well. Jimmy Reed often played high-pitched harmonica but Mark’s take on “Honest I Do” has some very high notes which are not pleasant to the ears. Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Write Me A Few Lines” fares better with Mark’s uptempo slide work to the fore before an unusually laid-back take on “Long Distance Call” really takes Muddy back to the country.
BB King recorded “Watch Yourself” on his Lucille album in 1968. Mark’s rapid-fire guitar style propels this one and, perhaps because it is a less familiar tune than most here, it is probably this reviewer’s favourite track. Apart from a run through John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples” which also includes parts of “Boogie Chillun’”, the rest of the album is devoted to Robert Johnson: Mark’s moody slide introduces “Come On In My Kitchen” which is immediately followed by “Walkin’ Blues” with more solid resonator work. The final cut is “Rambling On My Mind”, played fairly straight, again on the resonator.
Of course this album begs the question of whether the world needs yet another version of these old favourites and whether Mark brings anything new to them. Listeners will make up their own minds but, for this reviewer, this one is mainly for existing fans.