Hans Theessink

Crazy Moon

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Even a die-hard Big Bill Broonzy fan such as Theessink realizes the blues can't stay stagnant. That understanding helps makes his reverent combination of Delta blues, New Orleans R&B, and especially gospel so riveting. The Dutch guitarist/vocalist, besides being a talented singer and musician, is an accomplished songwriter. He uses the elements of his eclectic influences to create blues based tunes that pay tribute to their American roots without being hamstrung by them. He shifts from the J.J. Cale swamp shuffle of the title track and "Rolling Stone" (not the Muddy Waters tune) to the rousing deep Mississippi acoustic blues of "Train" and the folksy closing ballad "Man with a Broken Heart." Theessink's burnished, mellifluous vocals wrap around the material like a smoky haze, further reinforcing his obvious connection to blues and gospel. Vienna based, Theessink took his show, or at least his tapes, on the road to L.A., Dublin, and Austin, recruiting musicians from those cities to overdub parts on songs he had already laid down basic tracks for. Despite its somewhat Frankenstein-styled genesis, the results are warm and inviting, creating music that seems as if guests such as Marcia Ball, Cindy Cashdollar, and Terry Evans were recording simultaneously with him instead of after the fact. Tuba from Jon Sass creates unique basslines as well as reinforces the music's New Orleans connection. Songs such as the singalong "Home Cooking" overflow with churchy joy and choruses, begging to be belted out in a live setting. You can practically feel the mosquitoes biting on "Lazy, Long Hot Summer's Day," a languid trip through the heat of a typical summer day in the deep South featuring a short but head-turning tuba solo from Sass. These 13 originals boast distinctive melodies that can be traced back to Theessink's love of American blues but aren't bound by them. It's a blues album that expands the genre's boundaries with class, charm, and a deep appreciation and knowledge of all that has come before.

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