Paul Oscher

Down in the Delta

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It's interesting that many of the blues artists listeners have come to love -- from Robert Johnson to Robert Lockwood -- never set out to be immortalized. Their high goals -- making money playing music, chasing women, and drinking -- didn't necessarily consider art. Paul Oscher harks back to this non-noble tradition on Down in the Delta, an album that -- save for the occasional appearance of electric guitar and piano -- sounds like it was made on the back porch or perhaps at a local rent party. In other words, Oscher is just doing what comes natural to him on songs like "Driftin' Blues" and "Sugar Mama." Borrowing from a backlog of blues material, from Johnson's "32-20 Blues" to Lockwood's "Take a Little Walk," and adding a few of his own songs, "Blues and Trouble" and "Deborah's Baby," he delivers straightforward takes on 14 songs. And while he's joined here and there by players like bassist Ronnie James, pianist Dave Maxwell, and drummer Richard Innes, Down in the Delta is mostly Oscher's show. He plays both acoustic and electric guitar, and plays them well, and also does a good job of reminding one of John Mayall when he breaks out the harmonica. Oscher isn't a great vocalist, but perhaps his rough edges work best for his non-pretentious blues. For anyone who ever worried about the blues -- in the 21st century -- becoming too civilized, Down in the Delta will offer the needed antidote.

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