Mike Henderson & The Bluebloods

Thicker Than Water

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Nashville homeboy Mike Henderson belies his roadhouse roots with this crystalline studio blues record, singing, weirdly, as much like Ben Folds as he does like Stevie Ray Vaughan. This is a jubilant no-nonsense toe-tapping album, staffed by Henderson's ever-present entourage of excellent musicians, including keyboardist John Jarvis and Dead Reckoning label co-captain Glenn Work on bass. A longtime mandolin and flat-pick guitar player, Henderson gets Jarvis into the Jerry Lee Lewis spirit with a demon-calling "Keep What You've Got" and the house-rockin' "Scared of that Child." As he does on his previous and under-aired album, First Blood, Henderson honors his idols Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin' Wolf on the conga-thick "Mister Downchild" and classic down-home "My Country Sugar Mama." In addition to fine guitar covers, Henderson contributes a particularly clear vocal style with plenty of simultaneous character from both the blues and true-blue country music, which he began to cultivate in his early road days with the Snakes. A fine, versatile record for a good mood.

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