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CD Review
Guy Davis
"You Don't Know My Mind"
Red House (RHTCD 113), 13 tracks, 48 minutes
by Kurt Koehler
Guy Davis is part of a generation of contemporary blues artists such as Corey Harris, Fruteland Jackson, Keb' Mo', and other s who are keeping traditional blues alive along with some modern influences as well. The contributions of these many artists are really just beginning to be recognized and Guy Davis is one in the forefront.

The multi-talented Davis plays all the acoustic 12 string and 6 string guitars and the harmonicas on this latest offering. As well as singing all the lead vocals, he also p0lays some bass, keys and percussion too. In addition, every one of the thirteen cuts - music and lyrics - were written by Davis. He's also a playwright and an apparent humorist, judging by some of the self-scribed liner notes. Speaking of liner notes. "You Don't Know My Mind" comes with a 14 page booklet, complete with all lyrics and with personal notations about each tune from Davis along with a few other items of interest.

Musically, "You Don't Know My Mind" is a fine mixture of delta style and finger -- picking influences and modern melodic uses of background vocals and keyboards on some tunes. Some of the songs are much more back-porch than others, but don't expect a traditional album. Guy Davis is not a traditionalist in the purist's sense. Tradition is definitely here, but much of this music is more complex than the folk guitar, cigar box bass, and jug tooting of times gone by. Davis blends more sounds and movements which he borrows from traditional blues, gospel, and folk to create a truly fresh variation on a theme. If it sounds like I'm having a tough time describing Davis' music- -- it's because he's not one to be easily pigeon-holed. There is so much there in tunes like "Best I Can ," and "Grandma's Tea House," which are prime examples of his multiple uses of various influences within one composition. While "Home Cooked Meal" is a bawdy mix of muffin metaphors and some great slide work wrapped around a more straight ahead shuffle.

All in all, Guy Davis is a colorful character from his many guitars which all have names and are given credits in the liner notes, to his apparent dedication to the old masters of acoustic blues, to his use of poetic lyrical expressions. Following his two other releases on Red House, "Call Down The Thunder" (RHR 89) and "Stomp Down Rider" (RHR 80), "You Don't Know My Mind" promises to bring even more well deserved recognition to Guy Davis. Judging by his current contributions, Guy Davis is the future of traditional blues.

This review is copyright 1998 by Kurt Koehler, all rights reserved.

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Copyright 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
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