Friday, June 28, 2013

Rory Block's Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt

Stony Plain has just issued Avalon, the fourth of Rory Block recordings that pays tribute to some of the blues legends that inspired her and from whom she learned in developing her own music. To me this is a far better recording than her Reverend Gary Davis tribute where some of her vocals, or should I say shrieking on some vocals, made several of the selections unlistenable. 

While her vocals may sometimes come across as mannered, Block avoids going over the top on this. Importantly, Block evokes Hurt’s rolling guitar style and genial vocals without attempting to imitate his playing. She adds spoken and verbal asides in retelling the stories Hurt sang (Avalon is a particularly effective adaptation) and employs overdubbing to build up her guitar accompaniments for renditions of familiar songs associated with Hurt as Louis Collins Blues, Candy Man and Pay Day. Got the Blues Can’t Be Satisfied is an especially apt example how Block places her own stamp on Hurt’s music. 

In addition to her interpretations, Block contributed an original, Everybody Loves John, that recalls a little of Hurt’s life as well as how everybody loved Hurt as well as his music. It is the opening track on what is a marvelous and moving salute by Block to one of the most beloved artists located during the sixties blues revival.

I received a review copy from a publicist.  

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