This album begins with Packer giving his bona fides as a bluesman: “I’ve been shot at, stabbed, done time in prison, played with Honeyboy Edwards etc.” and continues a narrative punctuated by songs about his family, bands, drugs, love life and jail time, drawing us deep into the uneven life of a working musician.
Packer and fellow bluesmen will likely protest my favorite songs. “River of Wine,” the most commercial tune, stands as a poignant plea from lovers young and old who have fucked up and finally realize it: sins committed, redemption sought. The Michael Packer Blues Band’s take on “This Train” stands a head above, especially for those who grew up on the Peter, Paul and Mary version. Other winners include a bluesy ”Bad Time Jackson,” and “Love of a Woman,” which could be a Fleetwood Mac hit, but unfortunately the sketchy liner notes leave provenance to the imagination.
Packer’s matter-of-fact delivery contrasts well with the related songs which follow each vignette, including stories of his great uncle, cannibal Alfred Packer, and his own drunken assault on Bob Dylan in a bar. All told, an unusual and entertaining album.
– Suzanne Cadgene