Guy Davis was raised in New York, but grew to love southern blues early. He began his career acting and integrating music and theater off Broadway, but in the last two decades he has committed himself to preserving blues traditions. While many of his contemporaries blend funk and rock with their blues, Guy Davis’s latest release is stricter in its loyalty to roots music. The album is named after a rhythmic dance created by plantation slaves and while the title track pays homage to Haitian sounds and beats, most of the album is focused on the deep south’s folk blues heritage as Davis channels seminal country and swamp blues musicians like Ishman Bracey, Furry Lewis, and Brownie McGhee. Davis picks and strums in raw, minimalist style, using 12 string and six string acoustic guitars and five-string banjo for most of the tracks. He is accompanied by Italian bluesman Fabrizio Poggi on harmonica. Some of the best tracks are tributes, reaching deep into the catalogue of southern blues standards, like Reverend Wilkins’s “That’s No Way to Get Along,” and Josh White’s boogie-woogie “Prodigal Son.” But Davis is a creative and talented song-writer himself, as evidenced by the upbeat number, “Love Looks Good On You,” that is traditional in its lyrical framework but original in content. “Where’s the blues, nobody knows/ Love seems to fit you like a fine suit of clothes/ Looks good on you,” he sings while picking and strumming simultaneously in the fluid style of Mississippi John Hurt.The Blind Boys of Alabama also appear on the album, singing backup on “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” which Davis sang at the funeral of his father, actor Ossie Davis. The album was recorded in Italy. – Samuel Nelson
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