The third recording for Little Joe McLerran is his breakthrough album, going beyond his Tulsa, OK roots and adapted Piedmont style to make unpretentious, new Southern blues music firmly rooted in the acoustic tradition. Playing an adept slide guitar, McLerran also sings in a gritty tone reminiscent of John Hammond, Peter "Madcat" Ruth, Chris Smither, or even Eric Clapton. Accompianied by the fine saxophonist/harmonicist Dexter Payne, keyboardist Jack Wolf, and a rhythm section, McLerran plays big on traditional arrangements, a few originals, and some classics written by the true masters of the idiom. Train songs like Blind Willie McTell's slow, goin'-back-to-Baltimore "B & O Blues," the folksy "Blue Railroad Train," and the fast "Jesus Make Up My Dyin' Bed" keep McLerran in a rambling mindset, while "Down at The Village Store" is pure, funky, good-time music in the old-school sense. Another revered tune is Leroy Carr's "Blues Before Sunrise," which is so rustic you can smell the old wooden veneer of a honky tonk saloon. A duo with Payne on harp during McLerran's "Cocktails for Two" is a romantic tune as the pair heads for Greenville, MS, while "She's Got Somethin'" is on a boogie bender, and the hilarious "Duck Yas" or the slide guitar-infused title track add depth and variety. A 2009 International Blues Challenge champion, McLerran followed up that honor with this CD, a finalist for Best Self-Produced Blues CD from the Blues Foundation. They are accolades well-deserved by one of the freshest faces in contemporary roots music, with more in store for the years ahead.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos