James Armstrong review 12-11-11

JAMES ARMSTRONG

BLUES AT THE BORDER

CATFOOD RECORDS  CFR 014

EVERYTHING GOOD TO YA–SOMEBODY GOT TO PAY–BABY CAN YOU HEAR ME–BLUES AT THE BORDER–DEVIL’S CANDY–NOTHING LEFT TO SAY–HIGH MAINTENANCE WOMAN–GOOD MAN BAD THING–YOUNG MAN WITH THE BLUES–BRAND NEW MAN–LONG BLACK CAR

 

 

James Armstrong was born into a musical family, and his dazzling guitar style and gritty vocal style has served him well throughout a career that has endured despite some tough times.  He’s taken those life experiences and turned them into the gems that comprise the cuts on his first release in eleven years, “Blues At The Border.”

 

James was heavily influenced by his father, and later by bluesman Sam Taylor.  He pays tribute to both, thru the “Young Man With The Blues” cut, and by using a sample of Taylor’s trademark “Weeeellll” at the top of “Everything Good To Ya is not good for you.”

 

He takes a heavy look at love, life, and relationships and the pitfalls that accompany them.  Check out the two lovers who aren’t always honest with each other on “Somebody’s Got To Pay,’ and the plaintive vocal of a lonely man in “Baby Can You Hear Me.’  And, after a sweet piece of the “Devil’s Candy,” she becomes “a tough habit to beat.”  This one is characterized by some sweet slide work from James, too.

 

James also doesn’t always look at the blues as sad or morbid, and injects a sly sense of humor into his music whenever possible.  It’s that element of humor that permeates our two favorites.  The unabashed funk of “High Maintenance Woman” drives the tale of a woman with “more issues than the New York Times!”  And, James’ slide is again at the forefront on the story of tough times in a post- 9\11 world, bemoaning the fact that if you don’t have “your papers in order,” you’ll feel the heat of the “Blues At The Border!”

 

It’s been waaaay to long since we’ve heard from James Armstrong.  But, he has stuck it out, and his music has evolved and matured along with him.  “Blues At The Border” is a welcomed return to the spotlight for a fine bluesman!!!    Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

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