Monday, October 08, 2007
Swampcandy - The Dirty Suite; Free MP3 - "Rosie"
Anyone who's been reading this site for more than a minute should know how much I love the Delta blues and artists like Son House and Leadbelly. Lucky me, now I get to like someone that's still alive and (even better) in Maryland. Swampcandy self-released The Dirty Suite (click the album art to purchase), a stomping blues album that sounds like it comes from the front porches of the deep South.
The production on the record makes all the difference, artfully retaining the analog and humidity of classic blues recordings. As the recording brings us so close to the real sound of Swampcandy, so does the uncanny vocal quality of Ruben Dobbs come as such a shot in the arm. Armed with a baritone growl and a deep-soul wail, Dobbs blows the doors off on "Insomnia". Also the guitarist, Dobbs slides all over the guitar with down-home hollers like "Rosie" and the downtrodden blues of "So Low".
Most of the songs on this album are simple, from a songwriting perspective. Listening to The Dirty Suite, it becomes apparent that the songs reduced to tape can never be reproduced, like any good blues performance. While the songs have a root in a few simple chords, there is a fluidity and free-form quality to the music. Vocals get ad libbed, the guitar slides take on a life of their own, and the foot stomps and hand claps confirm a rabble-rousing good ol' time from song to song.
Thankfully, someone has swept the blues out from under the rug and decided to pay homage to the true blues tradition. With homemade percussion from Kevin Lebling in the form of washboard and spoons and the cadent drums of Noel White and Ken Crawn (and lest we leave anyone out, Rurick Reshettelof holding down the lows on bass), this is no modern interpretation of the swamp sounds of the early 20th century, but a revival thereof.
If you're new to the blues (and by blues, I mean something much more from the depths than The White Stripes), this is a great introduction. Once you start to feel the sound in your bones, Swampcandy will have done the blues better than most.
Free MP3 Download: Swampcandy - "Rosie"