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John "JB" Bigham has had a long and varied career, a far ranging background reflected on his debut The Soul of John Black solo album. That set was a masterpiece of eclectic styles; in contrast, his follow-up, The Good Girl Blues, hones in on only one -- the blues, in all its shades of glory. In fact, the set is virtually a dissertation on traditional blues, as Bigham explores its many variations while deftly connecting it with more modern sounds. He does this brilliantly on "Swamp Thang," at its core a porch pickin' blues piece that surreptitiously threads its way straight into hip-hop, a style accented by the beats and Bigham's slipping towards rapping his lyrics. Likewise, "Slippin' and Slidin'" is pure swamp blues, except for the eerie effects and a touch of hip-hop scratching that slithers through. "The Moon Blues" is traditional blues to its very core, with a sensuous, smoky jazz club aura, but with Bigham's lead guitar licks hinting at the rock & roll that eventually expropriated it. "Fire Blues" gives a further nod to that progression, blues filtered through white hands for a decade and landing foursquare in the mainstream, although Bigham's vocals remind us that simultaneously, Black soul artists were pulling the sound back home. The fabulously funky "Feelin's" tips a hat to one of the first Black acts to cross the divide between blues and rock, Sly & the Family Stone. Widening his net, Bigham crosses the border, digging "The Hole" with Leadbelly's sweat and a shovelful of Latin rhythms. "Moanin'" digs even deeper to find a link between the blues and flamenco, capturing the emotion of both amid a blur of guitar strumming. It's all the blues, and Bigham plays them with a passion and delivers them at times with a decided humor, as on "One Hit," where gospel gets its due with a wickedly witty look at a crack whore. Then there's "Deez Blues," which arrives like an unannounced and unwanted houseguest who just won't leave, with the ever more desolate Bigham moaning out a litany of hilariously country-fried complaints, in a desperate attempt to chase the blues out of his home. The perfect blues primer, Good Girl Blues makes learning both effortless and effortlessly entertaining. Bigham's guitar work is stunning throughout, his drumming not so much, but more than good enough, with guesting musicians flawlessly filling in the gaps. Together they create the blues as they once were and still are, an integral part of the landscape that's colored virtually every genre since, all seen through the prism of one of it's most devoted fans and talented practitioners.
|Label:||Yellow Dog Records|