Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Eddie Cotton One At A Time

As I write this review, I note that Eddie Cotton's new recording, "One At A Time" is a Blues Music Award nominee for Best New Artist Album. This is somewhat of a surprise since this is his second album for DuChamp in a couple years (2014's "Here I Come" was the earlier release) and this is his fourth album overall. Cotton was the winner of the 2015 International Blues Challenge, and while I have not seen him perform, his music has impressed me from the first time I heard his first two albums. His music is reminiscent of the late Little Milton although vocally there is a strong dose of Bobby Rush in the mix.

The band on "One At A Time" include Cotton's cohorts from the earlier album, Myron Bennett (bass), Samuel Scott, Jr. (drums), and Carlos Russell (harmonica on ‘Be Careful’). There are supported by James “Hotdog” Lewis (organ/keys), Kimble Funchess (trumpet), Jessie Primer III (tenor sax) and Mike Weidick (trombone). Cotton produced this (and wrote all 14 songs) while Grady Champion is the executive producer.

There is a variety of songs from the shuffle "Be Careful," to the low down back door man blues, "Better Deal," where Cotton sings about about having sense to know that no one can work every night, but that its plain to see that the back door man is getting a better deal than the hard working Cotton. He lays down some scintillating guitar while Hotdog Lewis lays down  greasy organ on a superb slow blues.  Set against a dance floor groove, Cotton's high pitched vocal celebrates his girl showing how life can be so sweet in the back seat parked on a "Dead End Street."

Other highlights include "Filling Me With Pleasure," with its electric slide groove, and Eddie wants  to know this lady better. In the philosophical "Hard Time," Eddie sings about lessons learned from his minister father, including that one should always do the best one can because the race against time is a hard race to win. This  has some of his most impressive guitar playing on the disc. Other songs include a celebration of his home state, "Mississippi," and "My Money," another back door man blues. There is a neat harmonica riff in the backing on this

I really like Eddie Cotton's music although I found some performances on this not as satisfying as on his prior recordings. His vocals sometimes sound pinched, and the backing not as supple. One might keep in mind that these comments are relative to Cotton's earlier recordings. If not Cotton's best recording, "One At A Time," still is a cut above most blues these days.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review appeared in the January-February 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 364) although I have made some minor stylistic changes from the published review. Here is Eddie Cotton's winning performance at the 2015 International Blues Challenge.

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