Corey Harris

Fulton Blues

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Corey Harris takes a decidedly anthropological and academic approach to the blues, deeply researching its variants and origins, and he's become adept at combining West African, Jamaican, and Creole rhythms with traditional country blues forms in a manner so natural that the cracks and fissures between now and then and between here and there never seem to show. This set finds him revisiting the many different approaches he's taken to the blues over the years, from solo acoustic guitar tracks to full-blown band-with-horn-section tracks, and he does it all with the same sort of slightly ragged, live feel, which is perhaps why Harris' performances always seem fresh and energized, even if the song he's singing dwells on weariness, pain, or injustice. There are many fine highlights of that here, including the timeless horn-driven jump blues opener "Crying Blues," the organ and horn-led deep soul-blues of "Tallahatchie," and the swampy, North Mississippi drone blues of "Catfish Blues," but overall, Fulton Blues has a sort of random feel, as if Harris just kept changing blues hats at whim, track after track, until he'd worn them all. That would be a bad thing if Harris wasn't engaging as a performer no matter what hat he wears, but here he does seem to be surveying where's he's been more than deciding where he may go next.

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