Following the critical praise of his freshman release for Alligator, Make It Rain, Michael Burks returns with another impressive recording, I Smell Smoke. Burks calls upon seasoned producers Jim Gaines (Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn) and Bruce Iglauer (Johnny Winter, Albert Collins) for the second time to help him realize his vision. While Michael isn't a household name, he is a veteran performer who has been playing in and around Arkansas regional festivals and clubs for nearly 20 years.
Even though he has a few years on Robert Cray, he plays in the same genre of contemporary electric blues. With no shuffles, Burks plays with an array of tempo's and rhythms which are considered the "new blues." Despite the Cray similarities, Michael Burks has more aggressive approach to his fret work and his solos are closer to Luther Allison, clean yet fierce. Vocally, Burks was obviously influenced by soul singers such as Otis Redding or Sam Cooke, as his rich deep voice has a Gospel texture. The only thing the relative newcomer hasn't mastered is songwriting as all but three tunes, Time I Came In Out Of The Rain, Miss Mercy, I Hope He's Worth My Pain, were written by other artists. However, Burks doesn't rely on any obvious covers, rather he chooses obscure or unrecorded tunes to fill up a disc.
At 46, Michael Burks began his recording career later than most but has the experience which made the transition from "live performer" to "recording artist" seem effortless.
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