From track one on Craig Horton's first solo release, In My Spirit, you'll ask yourself, "Where has this guy been hiding?"
For the past four decades Craig Horton has been a key element and silent force in blues music. This Chicago bluesman has a reputation as an accomplished songwriter, guitar player and vocalist. Make no mistake, Craig Horton is no new-comer but a veteran player who played the guitar in the Little Walter Band and toured with The Dells. Horton has shared the stage with the likes of Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, Dinah Washington, Otis Rush, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Freddie King.
The Bay Area Blues Society has acknowledged Horton for his contribution to West Coast blues, honored him for outstanding achievement.
In My Spirit is straightforward Chicago blues, chalk full of jumpin' guitar-driven shuffles, classic slow blues, great horn arrangements and gutsy virtuous vocals. Horton's Fender playing is polished, tight and steady.
Not over produced by Rusty Zinn (who also accompanies Horton on rhythm guitar on many of the tracks), the recording comes off very relaxed and unrestrained. As the disc begins spinning one hears horns preparing for a pleasurable assault on the listener. After the drummer counts fives the disc opens with a cookin' shuffle "Chest Pain Blues".
Interesting elements of this recording are the interviews planted throughout the record. He speaks of danger in nightclubs, from experience no doubt, just in front of the kickin' track simply entitled "NIGHTCLUB". "I have lived the blues all my life" Horton states at the beginning of the 4 minute and final interview track. Interjected between a guitar-guided shuffle, he talks about why he picked up the guitar and why he sings the blues.
At 61 years old, Craig Horton has the vitality of a Keb Mo or an Eric Bibb with the seasoning of a B.B. King or a Buddy Guy. In My Spirit is long overdue but was worth the wait. With Horton's straight approach to the music this is how the Chicago blues is suppose to sound.
This CD can be purchased at http://www.baddaddy.com/ for $13.00 with shipping charge of $3.00.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tony Engelhart, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.