ME, MYSELF, AND I
292 NASHUA STREET–BLUES, BLUES, BLUES–WHAT YOU TRYIN’ TO DO–LONG BLACK ROAD–OOH YEAH–THINGS AIN’T NO BETTER–GOT ME A WOMAN–DROWNIN’ ON DRY LAND–FORGOTTEN YOUTH–KUMBAYA–WAITER, THERE’S A BOMB IN MY SOUP–LIFE
As one listens to Arthur James’ latest release, “Me, Myself, And I,” you’ll notice several things. His fingerpicking is exemplary, and all the ten original songs on this set are written in the same vein as the players he’s always listened to—Son House, Bukka White and Robert Johnson, up thru Keb’ Mo’ and Eric Bibb on the contemporary scene.
Also, as Arthur created these songs, he did so with the listener in mind, to bring them directly into the song. As such, this album is predominantly acoustic and Arthur wrote all the songs, plus a sweet re-working of “Kumbaya.” What you hear is what went down in the studio, too—just Arthur, his voice, and his guitar.
The set starts with a playful instrumental, showcasing his chops and setting the tone for what’s to come, “292 Nashua Street.” “What You Tryin’ To Do” is another humorous cut about Arthur’s “girl,” who’s “got a staple in her navel!” “Ooh Yeah” and “Got Me A Woman” extoll the virtues of women he admires, either up close or from afar.
The set takes a darker, more intense turn as it enters its second half. Goin’ down that “Long Black Road,” Arthur’s “future lies in darkness,” and “bad luck and the Devil overtook me there.” “Forgotten Youth” recalls fond memories of one’s past, which are just that–memories. “Things Ain’t No Better” finds Arthur surrounded by the blues–in his house, on the TV news, and everywhere else.
Perhaps the two most intriguing cuts close the set, and served as our favorites. Arthur goes into Richie-Havens-at-Woodstock as he sings “Waiter, There’s A Bomb In My Soup” with its apocalyptic message of the consequences as man continues to destroy the Earth from within, thru nuclear waste or dropping of bombs, with the only hope being a “bomb of love.” The set closes with another instrumental, “Life,” that follows the previous song’s somber rhythm pattern.
Arthur James has long been a well-respected sideman for other players, but “Me, Myself, And I” is his own personal statement. Excellent picking and uniquely-crafted songs make this set a fine listen, indeed! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.