Once again, I have compiled my inexpert list of the blues-based albums that I liked the most from the past year. Here we go:
1. Eric Bibb – Global Griot. I like experimentation, and that is something Bibb is not afraid to do, as his last several albums all include interesting collaborations and stylistic blends. Global Griot, a double album that was recorded all over the world, may be as much of a world music album as a blues album. But with contributions from Habib Koite and an earnest political message, it is a great album.
2. Ry Cooder – Prodigal Son. Cooder, always the musical alchemist, worked with son and producer Joachim to create a blues album with an ambient feel, turning blues standards and original material on their heads.
3. Al Basile – Me & The Originator. Basile wove songs and poetry together to create his most significant album yet.
4. Buddy Guy – The Blues Is Alive and Well. It’s Buddy Guy. What else do I need to say?
5. Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite – No Mercy In This Land. This is a special collaboration. These guys play great together.
6. Ray Bonneville – At King Electric. Not sure whether this one counts as blues, but it is a stark work of art by a longtime road master (who looks a bit like Kevin Gordon 20 years from now).
7. Shemekia Copeland – America’s Child. Copeland sings a duet with John Prine in a reimagining of his classic, “Great Rain.”
8. Walter Wolfman Washington – My Future Is My Past. Washington has a remarkable style that seems part blues, part jazz, part free verse. Perfect.
9. Joe Bonamassa – Redemption. Bonamassa’s guitar excellence shines as always.
10. John Oates – Arkansas. The old Hall & Oates rocker scratches an itch for acoustic country blues.
11. Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Black Coffee. This Black Coffee is rich.
12. Cedric Burnside – Benton County Relic. Blues rock with heart and soul from the frequent North Mississippi Allstars collaborator.
13. Marcia Ball – Shine Bright. For when you’re in the mood for some great boogie woogie piano.
14. Crystal Shawanda – Voodoo Woman. She does work some magic.
15. Victor Wainwright – Victor Wainwright & the Train. Swamp rock & blues.
16. Bernard Allison – Let It Go. Allison’s high energy work channels his father, the great Luther Allison, but the son puts his own unique stamp on it.
17. Blue & Lonesome Duo – Pacing the Floor. The Duo – Li’l Ronnie Owens and Gordon Harrower – put together a pretty excellent blues album.
18. Colin James – Miles To Go. One of the best blues musicians in Canada added an excellent album to his output.
19. Mike Zito – First Class Life. Guitar-slinger Zito continues to roll.
20. Dave Keller – Every Soul’s a Star. The New England-based soul bluesman who worked as a sideman for the likes of Johnny Rawls and Johnny McGhee has developed his own voice and is playing some great music.
About the author: Bill Wilcox is a roots music enthusiast recently relocated from the Washington, DC area to Philadelphia, PA and back again.