Guy Davis: Skunkmello (Red House)

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Guy Davis: Skunkmello (Red House)

Before you look at the title and the cover art -- Davis laughing and surrounded by smoke -- let's get it straight: this isn't a stoner album but (apparently) takes its title from a notorious chicken thief F. Samuel Skunkmello "who founded the Lazy Liars and Loafers Club Inc. which was not really incorporated because he was too lazy to go downtown to fill out the paperwork".

If you believe that. Davis, from around New York, is one of those younger black musicians about two generations removed from cotton fields, juke joints and the original country blues but who has the gruff sixtysomething-sounding voice, the schooling and the sensibility to be -- not just sound like -- the real deal.

Here he threads together traditional and original songs (delivered in the rural manner on banjo, acoustic guitar but sometime embellished by rolling keyboards) which loosely essay the idea of outsiders and bad men like Skunkmello.

He brings it right up to date with Uncle Tom Is Dead which is a dialogue between an iconoclastic rapper ("blues is the bucket that I use for crapping in") and a bluesman ("rap and blues is about brothers killing brothers, you might not shoot but you're hurting one another").

Davis is one of the few blues musicians who confidently has one foot in the past and one in the now, and while that's a delicate balancing act he again pulls it off.

And will always sounds two decades older than he is.

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