Steve Gardner

Rambling Steve Gardner’s 6th release, Hesitation Blues, is arguably his best since debuting in 2002. It showcases his Delta blues guitar playing and vocals, often backed up by some spirited musicians performing in a more Hill Country blues style with strong percussive elements.

The title of the album draws from its opening track of the same name, which employs the boisterous fun of a horn section, a jangly old piano and some percussion. The sound is an extension of his previous album and also characteristic of some of the best songs on the album.

True to the Delta style, many of the songs incorporate his conspicuous slide guitar. Tracks like “Mississippi River Blues” and “In the Pines” are pure Steve: nothing more than his distinctive vocals and excellent fingerpicking. Others like “16 Tons” and “Waiting for a Train” are also stripped-down tunes with little more than harmonica added.

Blues fans won’t fail to notice some of the classics on the album: “Love in Vain,” “The Preacher and the Bear” and “Shady Grove.” Steve’s arrangements bring something fresh to the tradition and that’s every blues man’s greatest responsibility.

風来坊スティーブ・ガードナーの6作目となる「Hesitation Blues」も、2002年のデビュー以来の最高傑作といえるかもしれない。中心となっているのは彼のデルタ・ブルース・スタイルのギタープレイとボーカルだが、カントリー・ブルース・スタイルで演奏するバックアップミュージシャンたちもアルバムにパーカッシブな味付けをしていて素晴らしい。


デルタ・スタイルを踏襲し、多くの曲でスライド・ギターが駆使されていて、特に“Mississippi River Blues”や、”In the Pines”といったナンバーはスティーブの真骨頂。特徴的なボーカルと卓越したフィンガーピッキングを堪能できる。また、”16 Tons”や、“Waiting for a Train”などはハーモニカこそ入っているが、ぜい肉を削ぎ落としたシンプルさが光る佳作。

“Love in Vain”、”The Preacher and the Bear”、“Shady Grove”といった古いスタンダードナンバーもブルースファンには嬉しい。スティーブがこれらの曲でやっているように、古い曲に新しいアレンジを加えて生き生きと生まれ変わらせることこそ、すべてのブルースマンに課せられた重要な責務といえるかもしれない。

Ben Harper

Ben Harper’s newest album Get Up! is easily his best in years and perhaps that’s no surprise; it’s the realization of an old dream of collaborating with blues harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite. The album is solid Chicago blues, reflecting Musselwhite’s background, though with some more modern, genre-crossing tracks to give it good range.

As with all of Harper’s albums, his voice—both soulful and fragile—is the centerpiece. Likewise, his lyrics are characteristically strong with lots of clever two-liners that will make you crack a smile. Harper, actually, seems most at home in the blues; it’s hard to think of another album where he so consistently sings with such convincing passion and effect.

Harper has never been a guitar virtuoso, per se, but this primarily electrified blues and blues-rock album demonstrates he can wield his axe with ample skill. In the blues, at least, simple is often best.

Musselwhite’s presence absolutely elevates the album with melodies that sound like a second voice equal in stature to Harper’s own. His restraint and drawn-out tremolos are the mark of blues wisdom earned over decades.

ベン・ハーパーの最新作、「Get Up!」は彼の長いキャリアの中でも文句なしの最高傑作で、それはある意味当然ともいえる。ブルースハープの大御所、チャーリー・マッスルホワイトとの共演という長年の夢を実現させた作品だからである。アルバム全体としてはマッスルホワイトのバックグラウンドであるシカゴ・ブルースが中心になっているが、ジャンルを超えたモダンな作品も何曲か収録されていて、飽きさせない。




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