Big Bill Morganfield

Blues in the Blood

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On his third album, Big Bill Morganfield -- yeah, mm-hmmm, he is Muddy's boy -- turns in a stylish set of originals and one cover of his daddy's ("Evil") that should have been left off and should have never been recorded after Howlin' Wolf's version. But that's just a personal preference. Big Bill knows how to do the Chicago blues rave up. He keeps the tempered delivery of a song until it smolders with quiet intensity before exploding in the bridge. It may be formula, but he does it so well it doesn't feel that way. Morganfield also knows how to actually "write" a Chicago blues song. He understands that topics are not the only concerns of a modern blues tome; his sense of dynamics and his use of the instruments in complete balance with one another until an assigned moment make him different than his peers. Check out "Hoochie Coochie Girl" and contrast it with the very next track, "Left Alone"; on the former, a choogling modern blues riff underscores a humorous tale with a screaming guitar solo that keeps things just off-kilter enough to sound fresh. On the latter track, a funky, dirty slide riff that comes straight from the Delta sound underscores a hiccupping, slurred vocal that moves from a broken falsetto to bass in a seductive vocal slide that is infectious, memorable, and steamy. Likewise, on "Trapped," the jazzy side of Chicago blues as exemplified by Otis Rush and Little Walter is on display with a killer lyric and barely contained growl to extend the piano's emotional reach. Ultimately, Morganfield is reaching deep into the blues bag for inspiration and offering it to the listener like a bouquet. It's all here, full of pathos, pain, laughter, and bittersweet soul. Morganfield is three for three and is shaping up to become the master bluesman of his generation.

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