The Whiteley Brothers

Taking Our Time

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Given that these guys have been on the Canadian music scene since the 1960s, it seems a little strange that this is only their third album together. On the other hand, given that they've appeared on over 150 recordings by other artists (including Leon Redbone, Blind John Davis, and John Hammond, Jr.), maybe that shouldn't be such a surprise after all; they have been awfully busy. Based on the evidence here, they ought to be making two or three albums a year. On Taking Our Time they played every instrument, sang every part, and wrote every song, and the instruments (which include everything from electric guitar, string bass, banjo, drums, and harmonica to washboard, cornet, jug, and feet) are hardly less varied than the songs themselves, which vary from classic blues ("Homeless Man," "Shufflin' and Shaggin'") to wacky 1920s-style pop ("I'll Be Looking for You") with occasional uncategorizable gems like the beautiful "Hold It." But the focus keeps coming back to the blues, and on songs like "I Don't Mind" and "Perfume and Tobacco" they do what very few white blues artists can: without trying to sound like 80-year-old black men, they deliver blues compositions that are idiomatic, emotionally powerful, and musically articulate. Highly recommended.

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