Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Guy Davis Kokomo Kidd

MC Records has just issued Guy Davis' latest release "Kokomo Kidd," with nine originals and four covers. Davis is joined by Professor Louie on piano, John Platinia on slide and electric guitar, Mark Murphy on bass and cello, Gary Burke on drums, and Chris James on mandolin and rhythm electric guitar. Charlie Musselwhite and Fabrizio Poggi each guest on harmonica for one track while Ben Jaffe adds tuba to the opening title track.

Davis is an appealing folk and blues performer and the songs here provide a varied palette of blues that can be seen from the jaunty opening title track about a gentleman who was the grease in the corrupt prohibition era to keep the machine running. The next song, "Wish I Hadn't Stayed Away So Long," with its wistful sense about regretting his hobo's life. He adds some marvelous harmonica and banjo that adds to the flavor of the performance. "Taking Just A Little Bit of Time" has some nimble fingerpicking and a restrained, gruff, vocal.

Davis suggests Bob Dylan at times with several of his vocals including the cover of "Lay Lady Lay," but also "She Just Wants To Be Loved," about a lady who keeps going back for pain when all she wants to be loved with Professor Louie's organ and Chris James' mandolin helping the performance build in intensity. Charlie Musselwhite adds some nice harmonica to a pretty straight rendition of "Little Red Rooster," with Professor Louie adding strong piano as Davis singing capably, but Platania's slide guitar comes off as a bit over the top. Much better is the gem, "Maybe I'll Go," with an accompaniment and a vocal that evokes Mississippi John Hurt. The jaunty "Have You Ever Loved A Women" has Poggi adding his country blues styled harmonica for a lively acoustic performance. Tommy Johnson's "Cool Drink of Water" is a hauntingly beautiful recording and unfortunately Davis' gruff vocal nor the somewhat stilted rhythm suffer compared to the original. The reggae groove adds to the appeal of the closing "Wear Your Love Like Heaven."

"Kokomo Kidd" features a number of gems as well as some less successful songs, but as a whole displays his maturity as a performer and his open ears and imaginative approach to his music.

I received my copy from MC Records. This review originally appeared in the November-December 2015 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 363), although I made few stylistic changes and corrections. Here is Guy chatting and then performing.


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