Sunny Lowdown – Shady Deal | Album Review

Sunny Lowdown – Shady Deal


CD: 11 Songs, 38 Minutes

Styles: Traditional Acoustic and Electric Blues, Blues Covers

Everybody’s heard of John Lee Hooker, whether they’re familiar with the blues or not. They may not have heard of this icon’s sideman, one Louie X. Erlanger, who’s dubbed himself Sunny Lowdown. He has definite talent – so much so that his guitar compositions have been heard in such feature films as Breathless, Pope of Greenwich Village, In The Land of Women, Blue Collar, and the recent popular Showtime TV series Billions. Not only that, but he’s also worked with celebrated blues musicians Howlin’ Wolf, guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Muddy Waters pianist Pinetop Perkins, Chicago blues legends Otis Rush and George “Wild Child” Butler, Fat Possum recording artists R.L. Burnside and Cedell Davis, and many others. With a CV like this one, he should be a living legend. Nevertheless, fans who know and love him consider him as such.
Lowdown’s last album, 2017’s Downloaded was nominated for Acoustic Blues Album of the year in the 2018 Blues Blast Music Awards. This latest album, Shady Deal, is a mellow compilation of six original songs and five covers, e.g. “Satisfaction,” Muddy Waters’ “Sad Letter,” and Melvin Jackson’s “Travelin’ Woman.” When yours truly says “mellow,” she means that there are no upbeat or hard-driving numbers to be had. Mid-tempo is the fastest pace performed, which is the exact effect Sunny is aiming for. According to his website, ‘He takes his time and doesn’t hit you over the head. His power is in his tone and phrasing. You might call it a Clint Eastwood approach. No screaming – just a quiet ‘make my day’ that send[s] chills up your spine.’” Whether it produces chills or not, his skills on the acoustic and electric versions of his instrument of choice are self-evident. That’s why Mick Jagger deemed him one of his favorite guitarists during Sunny’s stint with Mink DeVille. His riffs are methodical here, almost tender, even on faster songs like “Lightnin’ Hop.”

Accompanying Sunny Lowdown (guitars and vocals) are Sunny Bottom on bass, Sunny Tubs on drums, and Sunny Keys on keyboards.

Two unique original selections are the second and final tracks, “Christmas Eve Blues” and “Chicken in a Basket,” which is performed alongside the Uptown Food Syndicate. On a lonely December 24th, Sunny misses his best friend and gets a visit from the police as well as jolly old St. Nick. Close your eyes during the solo in the middle of “Christmas Eve Blues.” Is that Eric Clapton, unplugged? It might as well have been. Too much of a downer? Crank up number eleven, a funky ditty mixing the ‘70s with the 2010’s. “I could really go for some chicken right now. Mmm, yeah. Maybe a wing…or a thigh…BARBECUE FRIED with a side!” If you don’t have the munchies before you hear this song, you will afterward – especially if you dance.

Shady Deal isn’t a party album, but “that’s good chicken” for a mellow mood!

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