Hugh Laurie: Didn't It Rain (Warners)

 |   |  1 min read

Hugh Laurie: The Weed Smoker's Dream
Hugh Laurie: Didn't It Rain (Warners)

Musicians can get very territorial when actors are perceived to be moving into their turf. People like Juliette Lewis, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron have hardly been welcomed (sometimes with good reason) and so Hugh Laurie was met with some scepticism when he released his Let Them Talk (nice title!) a couple of years back.

Clearly Laurie -- who sings and plays piano -- loved and understood the music of New Orleans, so much so that Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint were involved. That album was produced by knobman-du-jour Joe Henry.

Henry is back for this collection which also features excellent players like Greg Leisz, Kevin Breit, Jay Bellerose among them, and Taj Mahal sings on Vicksburg Blues. 

Again Laurie goes to the classic Nawlins songbook (it opens with a pleasantly off-kilter St Louis Blues) and his piano playing is way past just serviceable even if his vocals don't quite resonate on this material as you might hope.

There are some standouts (the Taj track is fine) and the best is Gaby Moreno's languidly sensual and head-nod vocal on Weed Smoker's Dream, and Jean McClain on the the earthy Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair and the slow burning I Hate a Man Like You.

At such times Laurie steps back to let the spotlight fall elsewhere and that democratic tendency is admirable. The re-arrangements are patchy -- the slinky swing of One For My Baby takes a couple of listens to appreciate -- and over the 13 songs there are some good hits but some real misses (Wild Honey).

His critics will say he shouldn't give up the day job, but Laurie is serious and although the pure and dark spirit of New Orleans and these blues might not always be evoked, this can be highly enjoyable, especially if you aren't excpecting voodoo and spooks to be conjured up.

Probably better placed just under "music" but there's more than enough blues here for it to be under this category.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Blues articles index

Susan Tedeschi: Back to the River (Universal)

Susan Tedeschi: Back to the River (Universal)

This raw and soaring blues-rock singer and guitarist has been mentioned in Elsewhere dispatches recently, but only as the wife of slide guitarist Derek Trucks. Very much her own person however,... > Read more

James Cotton: Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator/Southbound)

James Cotton: Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator/Southbound)

It's extraordinary to think that harmonica player Cotton played with Howlin' Wolf back in the early Fifties and then Muddy Waters, and at 77 he's not only still here but blowing up a hurricane on... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

ELVIS PRESLEY, AN ESSAY ON THE MAN 15 YEARS GONE (1992): The once and future King

ELVIS PRESLEY, AN ESSAY ON THE MAN 15 YEARS GONE (1992): The once and future King

This year, 1992, Elvis Presley - the first and only king of rock’n’roll - has been gone 15 years, yet, ironically, he often seems more alive than ever these days. Living Colour may... > Read more

Crispy'n'chilli squid

Crispy'n'chilli squid

Cannot tell a lie, this is a variation on something from Nigella Bites -- but with a twist. Real tasty starter, but it does involve gettin' squishy with it because you really do need fresh squid... > Read more