Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, now resident in Charleston, South Carolina with time spent in among various places New York City and Connecticut, Davis Coen brings a variety of musical elements to his thoroughly engaging Blues Lights For Yours and Mine (Soundview). Influences that can be detected include Tom Waits, Professor Longhair, Eric Von Schmidt, John Hurt, Bob Dylan, and John Lee Hooker, which he incorporates in this album that gets down in the alley at times as well as takes us to a rollicking barrelhouse.
The opening Basement With the Blue Light, is a blues and soul tinged ballad with an appealing vocal and a nice understated guitar break, whereas Mambo Jambo, is a lively Crescent City flavored rocker. Jack Of Diamonds takes the classic country blues from Texas (think Blind Lemon Jefferson and Black Ace) and adds a Mississippi Hill Country groove for a rocking original take on this theme, while Accelerated Woman, is a stunning stomp-boogie that is clearly inspired by early John Lee Hooker.
With a small group backing he then delights us with a Piedmont rag, Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down, that crosses Dave Van Ronk with a light juke joint groove, followed by a return to New Orleans for his rendition of, Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand, derived from Professor Longhair’s recording of this traditional blues theme and sporting some rollicking piano, while Lordy Lord, sounds to these ears like a reworking of an old Frankie Lee Sims tune. A bit of traditional spiritual flavor is found on Since I Left My Burden Down, with his deft acoustic guitar supported by the rhythm.
Down in the Alley, is another rollicking number featuring some barrelhouse flavored piano, before he closes this set with a solo rendition of CC Rider. What totally impresses about this disc is how even at its most traditional, Coen never simply copies but adds his own seasoning and his heartfelt, yet restrained performances come across so much more compelling than artists who are superficially more emotional. Not having heard of Davis Coen prior to this CD, this writer emphasizes how impressed he was by this and how the music has stayed fresh even after several hearings.
One can download this at itunes and cdbaby.com and amazon.com are among those carrying this CD. Coen’s website is www.daviscoen.com.
This review was submitted to a publication a few years ago, but apparently never ran. My review copy came from a publicist.