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Robert Lowery - A Good Man Is Hard To Find (REVIEW - Living Blues)

Orleans OR 1411

Arkansas native Robert Lowery's music might best be described as "amplified acoustic blues." Both Lowery's metal resonator guitar and Virgil Thrasher's harp are milked, but the absence of a drummer gives A Good Man Is Hard To Find a decidedly back porch sound. Raphael Semmes' stand-up bass and Katie Webster's keyboards heighten the energy level wherever they appear.

Lowery often sings in a shouting, declamatory style reminiscent of prewar Delta artists. His guitar work is also a throwback, both slide and picked. While the classic Sittin' On Top Of The World is treated to an uptempo, modern quartet arrangement, Lowery's electric leads nonetheless evoke Joe McCoy as much as Houston Stackhouse (an influence cited by Lowery). As a slide guitarist, Lowery has a delicate single-string touch reminiscent more of Tampa Red than Elmore Jones.

While the six covers (seven if you count the reprise of Mojo Hand) pay worthy homage to their creators, it's the five Lowery originals that ultimately sell this set. The title track and Watch While You Sleep are both slow guitar and harp blues that spotlight Lowery's slide work; Snake Hippin' Mama is an uptempo blues with an Excello beat that allows Thrasher to showcase his best Lazy Lester-style chops; My Baby's Callin' is a Lightnin' Hopkins knock-off right down to Lowery's laidback vocal delivery; and Move On Little Girl is squarely in the John Lee Hooker camp with its boogie pattern and some foot stomping from Lowery.

One question, though: did we really need another version of When The Saints Go Marching In?

--- Peter R. Aschoff

 

Louisiana Blues / If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day / A Good Man Is Hard To Find / Hobo Blues / Snake Hippin' Mama / My Baby's Callin' Me / Watch You While You Sleep / Last Fair Deal Gone Down / Sittin' On Top Of The World / Move On Little Girl / When The Saints Go Marching In / Mojo Hand

 

Originally published in Living Blues (September/October 1995), pg. 73

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