Harrison Kennedy is on a straight-arrow flight path toward being internationally recognized as a true blues artist and composer of his own music, one foot solidly in rural acoustic practice, and the other planted in urban modern contemporary sounds and themes. He's got one of the more distinctive and soulful voices in the business, with no small amount of the human cry identified with Son House, and the hither-come-yon style of Taj Mahal. Playing acoustic guitar, slide guitar, harmonica, and mandolin, Kennedy and his trio play short tunes that identify real-life situations with actual solutions. Kennedy does play several of these songs by himself with no apparent overdubbing, a credit in this technologically mutated age where the natural blues is practically shunned. Something that also sets him apart is his socially conscious attitude, as reflected in his list statements about lap dancers, sports bars, or love born in a petri jar in his anthem for a decade, "Them '90s Blues." A reality check pronounced during "Could Be You, Could Be Me," his sentiment for saving the planet on the snake-hips blues "One Dog Barkin'," or the universal "Healing Power of the Blues" shows a further glimpse of the human side of Kennedy. Of course there are more typical themes, like the prelude-to-romance song "Leading Lady," the affirmative love song "You're the Difference," and the conversely disillusioned "Look a Like," where Kennedy thinks he sees his ex with another man, all played in far-from-average fashion. An extraordinary and multifaceted musician, Kennedy uses keyboardist Keith Lindsay and bassist Justin Dunlop as extensions of his bold personality, but not necessarily as support. He frequently proves he can do it all by himself on exceptional tracks like the wheezy, harmonica-accented swamp blues "Hair of the Dog," the quaint, mostly instrumental "Cry for Mother Africa," and the definitive "Hogtown Blues" with Mahal's in-the-city fervor firmly installed and running at peak efficiency. The truckers blues "Cruise Control" has Kennedy on the road again heading 60 hours to New Brunswick with a real-life banjo in his hands. Recorded in Kennedy's hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and dedicated to the late Mel Brown and Uncle Jackie Washington, this bluesman, similar to acclaimed peers Otis Taylor and Eric Bibb, is making modern blues history with tradition in hand, succeeding with every step.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos