Peter Case: Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John (YepRoc Records)

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Peter Case: Some Bright Morning Blues
Peter Case: Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John (YepRoc Records)

Case used to be the mainman in the Plimsouls, a terrific and slightly ragged power pop band but he has enjoyed a long and diverse alt.country/alt.rock solo career -- as befits a man who was once married to Victoria Williams.

On his superb self-titled debut in '86 he had John Hiatt and Roger McGuinn helping out, and down the decades he has worked with Ry Cooder and Sir George Martin, and appeared on bills alongside many alt.country, folk and blues artists. Springsteen among many others is a big fan, and Case has increasingly moved into blues where he draws his inspiration from the likes of Mississippi John Hurt as much as unknown street buskers.

And that leads inevitably to this album which, despite the title, doesn't contain any songs by bluesman Sleepy John Estes.

No matter, these 11 originals are spare folk-blues with a small band (and Richard Thompson guesting on Every 24 Hours).

Very much in the current trend of stripped down, back-porch story-telling, these songs are shot through with narratives and social conscience -- and great tunes which Case's now slightly ragged voice delivers with considerable character.

Although somewhat of an academic and a musicologist, Case sounds as if he has lived these songs of hard times (you believe him when he sings with desperation, "I'm just hangin' on").

Acoustic folk-blues at its best, from one of the best.

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