Album Reviews

Lightnin’ Willie

No Black No White Just Blues

Artist:     Lightnin’ Willie

Album:     No Black No White Just Blues

Label:     Self Released

Release Date:     06.16.2017

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In a world full of blues guitar slingers, Los Angeles-based bluesman Lightnin’ Willie is a rare find.  He’s a guitar player.  Willie’s axe of choice is a hollow-bodied Gibson ES-5.  The instrument’s rich, deep tone and Willie’s tasteful style create a sound that’s light years away from the howling Fender Stratocasters that populate so many modern blues recordings.  Willie’s understated dexterity on guitar and cool, relaxed vocals form a unique blues style that’s simultaneously laid back and steeped in tradition.

On a set of all original material, Lighntin’ Willie displays deep blues roots and great chemistry with sidemen.  On the upbeat shuffle “Can’t Get That Stuff,” Willie shares the spotlight with pianist Dona Oxford.  The driving arrangement gleefully mixes blues with fifties rock and roll.  On the gut-wrenching slow blues “Locked In a Prison,” Skip Edward’s Hammond organ riffs and Ron Dziubla’s sax add to the lowdown atmosphere.  Willie’s guitar work on this track sounds straight out of Texas, with shades of T-Bone Walker and Long John Hunter.  The salaciously titled “Shake My Snake” owes a strong debt to Chicago blues legend Magic Sam.  Willie churns out the boogie riffs while the rhythm section lays down a rock solid backbeat.

While not necessarily groundbreaking, No Black No White Just Blues offers a refined and tasteful take on traditional electric blues.  Those looking for a break from guitar pyrotechnics and rock-tinged arrangements will find much to enjoy in Lightnin’ Willie’s music.

—Jon Kleinman

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