Review: Mitch Mann – Blackwater Creek

Posted on: Sunday, Oct 25, 2015

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Mitch Mann – Blackwater Creek

(Crazy Chester Records: CCR 001)

Shortly after he was born in Birmingham, the family moved home to Lynn, Alabama. Mitch was eleven years old when he first started playing the guitar, after this initial interest, he began to not only start playing in local bands but, also to practice his emerging song writing talents. He studied at Lynn High School and from there focused on a musical career by studying Commercial Music at Northwest Community College in Phil Campbell, Alabama. He moved to the Muscle Shoals area in 1993.

As well as teaching guitar in Muscle Shoals, he attained in 2009 a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of North Alabama in the specialty areas of Professional Writing and Music. His main instrument is acoustic guitar and with it he has created a uniquely appetising style that is warm, homely and thoroughly inviting. His delicate picking skills have, on more than one occasion featured on outings by bands such as;  Fiddleworms and Yellowhammer.

The sparse settings on this album see Mitch on vocals and lead guitars with the addition of one or two others backing him, depending of course on the number. This is more than evident on the traditional “Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad”, which is the first of fourteen lively, satisfying and endearing numbers; here Andreas Werner provides lead while Mitch supplies vocals and rhythm, the additional entwining vocals of Donna Jean Godchaux gives this jaunty, rolling number very pleasant echoes of Delaney and Bonnie at their acoustic best.

On the bouncy and engaging “Baby Don’t Forget”, there is a very caressing urgency delivered by the European atmosphere of harmonium and gypsy/jazz swing guitar. On the evergreen “St. Louis Blues”, Mitch is joined by a melancholy and lingering trombone courtesy of Charles Rose, together they swing and sway as Mitch’s emotion laden vocals rise and fall, the trombone provides the solid slowburning backbone it deserves as the number wends its way down the road.

The title number “Blackwater Creek”, is a brisk, bright and confident instrumental that allows Mitch to create an atmosphere of openness, optimism and cheer, his deft, delicate picking tone has a freshness and urgency that is powerful and uncluttered. “Tom Clark”, is the gripping tale of a highly unpleasant outlaw and has Mitch simulating the racing and pounding hooves of a desperate man and horse with his frantic and compelling fretwork that matches his equally desperate vocal recounting of this gruesome tale.

The lazy and haunting harmonica intro courtesy of Jimmy Hall, on “Crows Intro”, leads into “Crows”, which is a very pleasing, urging harmonica led country blues toe-tapper, entwining easily with a splendidly fiery and lively guitar. On “Sometimes A Rock”, town meets country wherein the breezy and highly enjoyable R’n’B tenor saxophone courtesy of Harvey Thompson happily dances with a confidently country, strumming guitar. Although, you know it is an acoustic album, it often doesn’t sound like one.

Highly recommended!

BRIAN HARMAN

www.muscleshoalsartists.com/mitch-mann

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