Lightnin' Willie & the Poorboys

American Made

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Featuring Irishman Hurricane Jake Fitzgerald on the harp and guitarist Lightnin' Willie Hermes, this blues-based American roots music outfit cooks. This is the second release by Willie on the English 1.4.5. Records label. With the addition of Hurricane Jake and some new Poorboys, including several members of Dwight Yoakam's band -- like Pete Anderson, Skip Edwards, and Taras Prodaniuk -- plus hot L.A. blues guys Mississippi Slim, Billy Watts, and Edward Tree (who also produces), Willie presents more of his high-voltage rockin' blue honk. He also takes his music to a higher level. Sporting his trademark National Resophonic guitars and slinging a mighty Fender now and then, Willie has created a sound that is pure Americana. Together Jake and Willie are a powerful force.

Tree's deft production style allows the best of each musician to shine while showcasing the music. Willie, who penned all but one of the 12 cuts, writes simple lyrics that reflect an intimate knowledge of the basic blues form. While his playing is really the centerpiece, he has an affable performance style that Tree captures within the confines of the studio. Songs such as "Without Your Love," "Tears Falling Down," and "Thinking of You" are intriguing and catchy. Anderson's performance on a Resophonic on "Cryin' Won't Help You" gives some indication of his Motor City roots and affinity for the blues. His teaming with Willie creates a special moment, as does the addition of the elusive slide king Mississippi Slim. This one was a longtime coming, and the quality of the project reflects the blood, sweat, and tears shed in the process. A substantial release that backs up the work of two very substantial performers and their cohorts.