Years ago in the Washington D.C. area, legendary WPFW-FM blues radio personality Jerry ‘The Bama’ Washington would play at least a couple times a month an evocative song, Night Bird, by one Doug MacLeod (some may be familiar with Eva Cassidy’s recording of this song). Hearing this led me to the No Road Back Home album that MacLeod, Dennis Walker and Bruce Bromberg produced for Hightone.
MacLeod has since has compiled a fairly extensive discography and established himself for his evocative vocals, guitar and songs, rooted in the blues tradition but speaking from personal experiences. In recent years he has eschewed the electric guitar, preferring to perform and record acoustically with the focus on his intricate fingerstyle guitar as well as slide playing, and his intimate vocals.
His most recent disc is on the Dutch Black & Tan label, Dubb, which refers to the nickname the late legend George ‘Harmonica’ Smith gave him. He’s backed by bassist Denny Croy and drummer Dave Kida with Carl Sonny Leyland adding some piano for several tracks. Songs that spin some philosophical take on relationships, (If You Going to the Dog House) mix with songs about a women who really gets down and upsets the neighborhood (She’s Boogy’n), a touch of cynicism about our supposed to be public spirited politicians Dubb’s Talkin’ Politician Blues), observations of someone who can’t stop yapping (One Fool Show) and a lying lover ($50 Wig with its line “You got a $50 wig, setting on a $5 head), and a touch of the Dust My Broom melody (North Country Woman).
Some songs I am sure will grab you more than others, but certainly Macleod’s songs rings a bit bluer than some award-winners and his understated approach stands out with so much rocked music these days. Seems like some good material to cover in here as well. Definitely a release to check out.
I wrote about Doug’s 2010 DC Blues Festival appearance last year. I believe it is appropriate to revive this review of a fine recording that appeared in Europe and should still be readily available along with others by him. This review originally appeared in the November 2005 DC Blues Calendar and the February 2006 Jazz & Blues Report (issue 280). I believe I may have purchased this.