Blues With Friends


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Blues With Friends Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Blues With Friends is a straightforward title for an album that isn't quite as straightforward as it seems. Unlike most blues duet records from rock & roll lifers, this isn't a collection of covers. Dion wrote 14 new songs, usually using blues as a foundation, then invited a bunch of famous pals into the studio to add some vocals or maybe guitar. The guest list is varied, ranging from blues lifers Joe Louis Walker and Sonny Landreth to relative new guns such as Joe Bonamassa, while also finding plenty of space for rockers like Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Brian Setzer, Van Morrison, and Stevie Van Zant. Not all these players are strictly blues and the album isn't quite, either, taking the time to dig deeply (and quietly) on the Simon duet "Song for Sam Cooke (Here in America)" and the comforting closer "Hymn to Him," which features Springsteen and Patti Scialfa. Blues With Friends may be most interesting whenever Dion wanders from the straight and narrow, but the straight-up blues are often compelling, too, particularly when Dion gets down and dirty with Billy Gibbons on "Bam Bang Boom" and when he spars with Walker and Morrison on "I Got Nothin'." The different shades of blue are nuanced but notable and help make Blues With Friends another strong latter-day collection from Dion.

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