James Cotton – [Album]

Friday, 26 April 2013

These days, every musician over a certain age (and some well under it) seems to be writing their memoirs. But, if you're a musician, why write them? Why not sing them? James Cotton, a blues harp player who has been recording for over fifty years, has done just that on his new CD, Cotton Mouth Man.

At least half the songs on this album are autobiographical. The title track is obvious. "Mississippi Mud" starts out telling about his youth working a farm, and then swings up to Chicago to reference Muddy Waters (Cotton played in Waters' band for years). "He Was There" takes us from another early career, as a truck driver, to playing Carnegie Hall. Near the end, "Wasn't My Time to Go" describes how Cotton has survived numerous mishaps in his life.  "Blues Is Good for You" tells how he keeps going, despite certain bad habits he refuses to give up. "Bonnie Blue" wraps it all up with another recap of his life.

The middle of the album is taken up by more traditional blues subjects. In other words, women. Especially sexy women. A song like "Young Bold Women" doesn't really need any explanation. Nor does the double entendre-riddled "[It Gets] Hard Sometimes." Maybe this is just more autobiography; Cotton has spent much of his life as a touring musician, and you know what happens on the road. In fact, both of the just-mentioned songs refer to life on the road, and the women one meets there, or leaves behind.

Musically, Cotton Mouth Man is all straight ahead Chicago blues; most of it hard-rocking. Cotton only slows down a couple of times, on "Wrapped Around My Heart" and "Wasn't My Time to Go." Otherwise he charges ahead full-steam, demonstrating a lot of energy for a man his age. Of course, he does a lot of what he does best, blows his blues harp. While not an innovator as a harp player, he has a solid style, which keeps things moving throughout.

If you're in the mood for some good, old-time blues, check out the Cotton Mouth Man.



Cotton Mouth Man
will be released on May 7, 2013 via Alligator Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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