Artist: Lurrie Bell
Album: Can’t Shake This Feeling
Release Date: 08/18/2016
One of my all-time favorite album titles is Willie Dixon’s I Am the Blues. That would be more than an appropriate way to describe perhaps today’s purest living legend of the blues, Lurrie Bell. Tom Marker, producer and host of Chicago’s WRT’s Blues Breakers does a great job of elaborating on this in the liners, especially in this passage – “nobody listens to music like a musician does. This guy said to me that whenever he listens to blues players, he can hear their influences. This riff came from this player, he got his tone from this cat, he’s playing this break like so and so did. But the reason he’s so taken with Lurrie is that he heard none of that. Lurrie is an original. All those sound he plays are just coming right out of his ear. And his heart and his soul.”
This is Bell’s follow-up to his multiple award-winning 2013 effort, Blues in My Soul, and rather than argue with success, he brought back the same supporting band. Harmonica ace Matthew Skoller (who has his own release due on 9/16), drummer Willie “The Touch” Hayes, bassist Melvin Smith and in-demand keyboard session man, Roosevelt “Mad Hatter” Purifoy, round out Bell’s sound. Grammy award winning producer and blues historian, Dick Shurman, once again produces. Bell is fresh off his win as the best guitarist in the esteemed 2016 Living Blues awards. While many blues players can be faulted for predictability, Bell is not among them. His take on T-Bone Walker’s “I Get So Weary” sounds nothing like Walker. As he does with just about any cover tune he touches- mostly obscure ones at that- Bell puts his own stamp on them, as evidenced by his take on what could be his signature tune, Buster Benton’s “Born with the Blues.” Listen to his slow-burning original, “This Worrisome Feeling in My Heart” and try to compare his unique minor key styling to anyone else.
No, there is not the least bit of pretension here in the playing or the vocals. Bell has so much raw emotion and honesty; you hang on every word, knowing he’s lived the blues. Between his battles with drugs and the devastating family tragedies that he has overcome, it is truly amazing that he’s here at all. What a wonderful gift! Bell has a different, almost behind the beat sense of timing and delivery that add to the depth of his intensity. The last track, co-written with Shurman, reveals the stripped-down essence of what keeps Bell going, “Faith and Music.” When someone says to you that we don’t have the real blues around anymore, point them to Lurrie Bell. No one is more passionate or real than he is.