Blues Lights for Yours and Mine

  • 2008
  • Blues Lights for Yours and Mine
  • Davis Coen
  • Soundview Productions

Description

Davis Coen is a singer-guitarist-songwriter from the Carolinas who entered the recorded music scene in 1995 with “Cryin’ the Blues,” abetted on that album by folk legend Eric Von Schmidt. His new release, revealing his reverence for seminal country blues, also features some Memphis soul and Bayou funk undertones along with hints of folk and even jazz. Four of the eleven cuts are original compositions, and Coen is accompanied on most of the tracks by a competent drum, bass, and keyboard rhythm section. (Ben Palmer on bass particularly gooses the groove on 3 tunes.)

Among other contemporary bluesmen who honor the country blues tradition, Coen’s effort brings to mind Kelly Joe Phelps, John-Alex Mason, and David Jacobs-Strain. Coen’s guitar prowess is laudable, especially on slide guitar on “Jack of Diamonds” and Accelerated Woman,” although it doesn’t quite reach the level of accomplishment of Phelps (but few slide guitarists do). His voice is pleasant, and particularly suitable to “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” with its infectious, lilting groove, and “Down in the Alley,” a salacious, witty come-on. It’s less effective on “Lordy Lordy” and the hoary chestnut “C.C. Rider,” which cry out for a more powerful vocal than Coen’s slightly nasal tenor can provide. His occasional sudden forays into the high registers are intermittently successful, and his habit of melisma (multiple notes on the same syllable) can be pretentious.

The album’s two opening songs are its least compelling. “Basement with the Blue Light” lands somewhere in the folk rock genre, with an obtrusive organ accompaniment, and “Mambo Jumbo” sounds like a cross between reggae and bubble-gum pop. The album consistently improves after that, though, and showcases Coen’s considerable potential.

[This review originally appeared on the BluesWax Web site.]