I was familiar with Northwest bluesman Lloyd Jones from his recordings that mixed funky R&B and modern urban blues such as his excellent Audioquest CD Trouble Monkey. His latest album, Highway Bound (Underworld Records), is a definite change of pace as he is playing solo acoustic with the exception of one selection when he is joined by the harmonica of Charlie Musselwhite. He states this on this recording he is playing some of his favorite folk songs and that listeners will enjoy it as much as he did performing them.
Vocally Jones might suggest Delbert McClinton but here he brings a driving acoustic guitar style, sometimes just a driving groove on his original with some nifty finger picking in his short solo breaks. There is an interesting mix of material covered ranging from a briskly tempoed Careless Love, to the wistful When I’m Gone, which I believe was written by Elisabeth Cotton. On John Brim’s Ice Cream Man, Musselwhite joins in for a lively unplugged Chicago blues duo while on Blind Willie McTell’s Broke Down Engine Jones renders a performance in a manner that Taj Mahal might have done if he performed it as a Piedmont rag for a very original performance.
Jones picks up electric guitar for a percussively oriented rendition of Robert Johnson’s Last Fair Deal Gone Down, followed by a reflective take of Big Bill Broonzy’s Southbound Train. Mixed in with originals is an amiable take on John Hurt’s Don’t Want Me Baby, and Make Me a Pallet on the Floor. A take of Cry For Me Baby, that Elmore James originally recorded, comes off like a John Lee Hooker boogie, while Good Night Irene comes off as a gentle lullaby. Curtis Salgado adds harp to the closing tune, a treatment of the Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer Lazy Bones, given a nice low-key spin.
Jones does indeed play some favorite songs here. His skilled playing and vocals makes for delightful listening.
My review copy was provided by a publicist for the release.