I truly love hearing a new band playing old style music and imbuing it with fresh passion and giving me a new buzz. Blind Lemon Gators manage to do that in a joyous way.

The band were originally formed as a two piece - Grieg Taylor on vocals and Iain Donald on slide guitar plus stomp box (having converted from playing bass) – when the two got together through the Scottish Blues networks and then added Dave Cantwell (ex John Martyn) on drums and percussion. Taylor has a history that takes him through various Blues bands, as well as his own heavy electric Blues outfit while Donald has family history through Scottish travellers and claims influences that include Blues artists like Elmore James as well as gypsy influences.

The result is Blues of a high order and covering so many different forms of the Blues that you could be forgiven for thinking this was a collection rather than an album. But they do it all with real panache and a complete sense of confidence in what they do.

The album opens with ‘Blues Mans Shoes’, a lone slide solo running into a military snare beat and Taylor’s strong vocals and some sublime slide playing from Donald – very much in the style of North Mississippi bands and instantly catching my ear.
‘A Little Death Around The Eyes’ has a softer feel but no less of the superb playing and Taylor’s vocals really carrying the emotion the song deserves. Donald’s guitar has an almost sitar like sound to it and the accordion in the background creates a sonorous drone to set the song off.

All the songs are written by Donald & Taylor except for Leadbelly’s ‘Goodnight Irene’ and their version – just as a two piece – is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Slowed down to an almost funereal pace, Donald’s slide played wistfully and gently and Taylor’s vocals clear and with a faraway feel to them – you can almost see the young man singing from afar.

‘Hurt’ has a gypsy feel to it with excellent accordion behind the vocals and snare drum.

This is simply played and well recorded. Wayne Proctor mixed and mastered the album and he has really got the feel of the band, leaving space and allowing the musicians skills to really show through.

I’ve heard a lot of very good music this year and this one is an unexpected addition to that list. Very fine indeed.

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