Review: Ian Siegal and the Youngest Sons – The Skinny

Posted on: Thursday, Oct 20, 2011

“The Skinny”
(Nugene Records – NUG1101)

Here’s something of a detour from one of our most popular and contemporary of bluesmen, Ian Siegal . . . without his regular band he travelled to the Zebra Ranch studio in Coldwater, Mississippi to record “The Skinny” in the company of said ‘youngest sons’ – namely the latest male offspring of four famous bluesmen: Garry Burnside (guitar and bass), Robert Kimbrough (guitar), Rodd Bland (drums) and Cody Dickinson (drums/bass/woogie board), respectively sons of RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and Jim Dickinson – the late top producer who set up the studio, which is used by Cody’s band, The North Mississippi Allstars.

Apart from of course Ian Siegal on customary fine trademark vocals and guitar and ‘The Youngest Sons’, guests are hand, namely Alvin Youngblood Hart, Duwayne Burnside and Andre Turner. The location sees a change in the direction of Siegal’s music with the North Mississippi hill country sounds dominating . . . downhome hypnotic guitar lines, and the local drum and fife influence. The 11 songs here are a mix of Siegal originals and collaborations and a couple of covers.

Proceedings kick-off with the title cut, “The Skinny”, a Siegal tune with a fine hook and a guest spot from Alvin Youngblood Hart on rhythm and second guitar; Tony Joe White’s “Stud Spider” rides on a nagging and funky wah-wah riff and typically smoky vocal, with a fierce guitar solo from Robert Kimbrough. “Masterplan” perfectly catches the feel and groove of the area, and very much in the style of the two late masters of the music . . . RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough.

Two tracks are co-written by Siegal’s long time friend, British guitarist Sam Hare . . . the sinister and brooding “Hound Dog In The Manger”, with more intense guitar from Kimbrough . . . and also “Better Than Myself”, with Siegal’s appealing acoustic slide guitar, with a fine hook as most of the songs here have, and the simple, yet effective support of the band. “Moonshine Minnie” again rides on a nice funky groove supplied by all – the guitars of Siegal and Kimbrough meshing together.

Garry Burnside gets a solo spot on the driving country blues of his own “Garry’s Nite Out”, which features him on  vocals and guitar, with Ian Siegal adding his excellent slide playing to it. The closer “Hopper (Blues For Dennis)” is a ‘doff of a cap’ to the late, great maverick actor Dennis Hopper, where the band and Siegal stretch out in another great groove, with his guitar handling all the lead duties . . . a fine end to the album indeed!


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