Well, it’s that time of the year again, and after awakening from my yearly food coma, I realized I hadn’t compiled my annual inexpert list of favorite blues-based albums. Well, here we go:
- Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – Cyprus Grove. A collection of earthy originals and covers from the last of a breed of Mississippi Delta juke joint bluesmen, Cyprus Grove is a masterpiece.
- Gary Clark Jr. – This Land. Clark has emerged as the first blues Superstar in a generation. While This Land is hardly a pure blues album, there is some fine blues on it.
- North Mississippi Allstars – Up and Rolling. With Luther Dickinson going country with his other fine projects in 2019, it’s great to see NMA staying true to its blues roots.
- Christone Ingram – Kingfish. The future of the blues? This 20-year-old may be it, with his searing guitar solos and powerful vocals.
- Mavis Staples – We Get By. Few will dispute that Staples is the reigning “Queen of the Blues.”
- Manx Marriner Mainline – Hell Bound for Heaven. Super slide guitar (and Mohan veena) player Harry Manx teamed up with Monkeyjunk’s Steve Marriner for a great first outing.
- Keb’ Mo’ – Oklahoma. Keb’ Mo’ continues to produce surprising interpretations of the blues.
- Blue Moon Marquee – Bare Knuckles & Brawn. Speaking of surprising interpretations, check out Bare Knuckles & Brawn for a completely new approach to the blues.
- Jontavious Willis – Spectacular Class. Willis takes us back to the front porch for a spectacular education in roots blues reminiscent of early Corey Harris. What Ingram is doing for blues electric guitar, rising star Willis does for its acoustic counterpart.
- Kenny Wayne Shepherd – The Traveler. If you are tired, this one will wake you up.
- Beth Hart – War In My Mind. Her music is thoughtful and exquisitely done.
- Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters – Beyond the Blue Door. While it lacks the instrumental space journeys Earl is sometimes known for, it includes all the styles the Broadcasters do best in shorter packages – and with David Bromberg as a guest artist.
- Savoy Brown – City Night. Kim Simmonds continues as one of the most powerful English blues voices more than 50 years after Savoy Brown’s first releases.
- Rival Sons – Feral Roots. Feral Roots does blues-rock in younger, hipper packaging.
- Samantha Fish – Kill Or Be Kind. Sometimes over-packaged, Fish’s work is always excellent if you can ignore the glitz.
About the author: Bill Wilcox is a roots music enthusiast recently relocated from the Washington, DC area to Philadelphia, PA and back again.