The Five Points Band's latest release invokes just what it's title implies, "Roots and the Spirit" of early Delta Blues, with haunting originals as well as updates of material by Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Skip James and others. Sparse, concise
arrangements centered on guitar, bass and drums trio with little additional instrumentation give a neither world quality to the already dark-themed material.
The result, however, is nothing near a downer.
Blues, no matter how tortured the subject, are celebratory in nature. That premise is amplified here on every cut. Robin Ludwig's manic vocals and break neck slide guitar set the pace throughout. "Candyman," however, leads things off mid tempo. Jason Babcock digs into his trick bag, utilizing various and sundry percussion to add a demonic
jauntiness to this well-worn classic. Original, "Angel Child," picks up the pace, driven by Mike Esterson's precision bass work.
On a set dominated by song lengths of three and a half minutes and under, "Smokin' Loco" allows the Five Points Band to stretch-out. Clocking in at nearly 6 minutes of trance inducing interplay, this centerpiece cut displays the group mindset as all three members combine to maintain a shifting groove that never ceases to please.
"Call Me the Hammer" and "Love In Vain" benefit from Lew Soloff's trumpet work. Whether it's the former's muted passages or latter's New Orleans style accompaniment, Soloff adds depth and texture. Steve Burgh helps out on three cuts, adding Mandolin to
"Leave 'Em now" and the funky "Maggie Walker" and atmospheric organ to "TV Preacher." A myriad of backup singers brings a choral sound to several numbers including "Name of the Game."
The Five Points Band is by no means pure Blues. Still, this trio uses imaginative arrangements to create fresh sounds that capture the form's spirit. It also says a lot that this band eschews solo flash in favor of ensemble fire. The Five points Band has
put together a gem of a CD that deserves to be heard and marks them as ones to watch. Enjoy.
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