Duwayne Burnside

Under Pressure

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In blues, just as in rock and country, a famous surname is just as often a hindrance as it is a help: there are probably half a dozen Julian Lennons for every Rosanne Cash. Luckily, Duwayne Burnside's debut studio album leans more toward the latter than the former. His first album, 1999's Live at the Mint, was a pedestrian mix of well-worn blues standards like "Dust My Broom" and "Hootchie Cootchie Man" with derivative originals, and it over-featured cred-enhancing guest spots from his newly famous father. In the intervening years, Burnside's become an adjunct member of the North Mississippi Allstars, and it appears that working with musicians closer to his own age and interest has ignited a greater creative spark. (Guests on this album include ex-Squirrel Nut Zippers frontman Jim Mathus, who co-produced the album and plays rhythm guitar under Burnside's lead, and bassist brother Garry Burnside, whose day job is in Junior Kimbrough's band.) There's an immediacy to Burnside's playing and singing on this album that wasn't present before, prodded by the Stax-style rhythm section of Garry and drummer Roy Cunningham. Best of all, even the album's covers, a crisp and concise version of Albert King's "I Got the Blues" and an expansive, soulful take on Dad's "Bad Luck City," sound as energized as Burnside's stylistically varied originals.

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