Since the mid-'80s, Detroit artist Danny Kroha has been a fixture, endlessly fronting amazing bands from garage punk greats the Gories to party rock trio Danny & the Darleans. With these bands and many others, Kroha built a reputation for his visceral approach to songwriting and performance, his unique voice and guitar style being the calling card for everything he touched. Angels Watching Over Me is the first full-length album Kroha issued under his given name, though it's hardly a debut for this seasoned performer. Over the course of the album's 16 songs, Kroha turns his muse toward folk, blues, and gospel tunes mostly plucked from the public domain, delivering these more traditional songs with all the raw grit that defines his more rock-leaning work. The rootsy feel of the album is enforced by traditional instrumentation (washtub bass, mouth harp, dulcimer, banjo, and a one-stringed guitar-esque instrument known as a "diddly-bow") and rudimentary recording means, most of the album captured live to a single microphone during energetic sessions held in an empty house. Rather than striving for some artifically manufactured vintage dustiness, however, the songs here find Kroha simply laying it down with a time-honored holler and a well-seasoned howl. Droning blues standards like "Before This Time Another Year" and "Walking Boss" simmer with tension, while upbeat jaunts like "Rowdy Blues" pop with unrefined energy. Kroha's sole original composition on the album comes in the form of "Run Little Children," a bustling blues rant that channels the greatness of Son House and some of the same sinister electricity as Howlin' Wolf. Though sonically removed from the burning power of his more high-volume material, Kroha's undeniable presence serves as a causeway between these traditional blues-folk selections and the generations of rock & roll that borrowed from them repeatedly as time rolled on. It's a captivating and enjoyable listen and further cements Kroha as one of the more important talents of his time.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas