Larry Garner’s sixth release is entitled Once Upon The Blues. If it sounds like the beginning of a story, its due to Larry’s love of storytelling. He combines his natural talent for narrating with expressive vocals, witty lyrics and super charged guitar on this new CD. He wrote all 12 tracks on the 54 minute disc. The production is stellar as expected when Dick Shurman is involved.
By now "Where Blues Turn Black" will be a familiar song thanks to the airplay it has received. It’s a catchy, smooth contemporary blues. On "Slower Traffic Keep Right", Larry’s vocals sound Robert Cray-ish. Its a sing along song about those who drive too slow while driving in the fast lane. However the lyrics are bound to confuse those from countries where its normal to drive on the left side of the road! Here Garner lays down a guitar solo full of soul and precise notes. His guitar playing is energetic but not over the top. Harp and guitar harmonize on "A Real Gambling Woman". On this traditional blues tune, Larry half sings and half speaks the lyrics.
The fantastic keyboards of Ernest Williamson and wailing harp of Seiji Yuguchi are featured on "That Was Her Dance" and "I Won’t Tell Your Mama" respectively. As anticipated "…Dance" is a jump tune but not in the vein of the current swing rage. It’s just more blues from the bayou. "I Ain’t The One" is a slow blues with words that are almost spoken. Here Larry makes it feel as if he is personally telling a story to the listener. It’s about the type of woman that all men dream about. "Virus Blues" is a modern day tune about catching a computer virus. Larry’s Louisiana roots come over loud and clear on "The Muddy River". For the CD’s closing number, "Nothing But Life", Larry goes acoustic and proceeds to define the blues musically and lyrically. He sums it up best when he sings, ‘because of the blues, I understand my destiny’.
Its a superb CD showcasing what modern blues should be. Once upon the blues, Larry Garner came along with a fresh sound that proves there is a strong future for the blues. Garner transcends his field on one of the year’s finest releases.
For CDs, and information, contact: Ruf Records Website: www.rufrecords.de
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tim Holek, and Blues On Stage, 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.
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