New Rory Block CD -- "Shake 'Em On Down"

New Rory Block CD -- "Shake 'Em On Down"
March 29, 2011
Community Voices

Rory Block, the masterful country blues guitarist whose work is possessed by the spirit of her muse, releases a new album today, the third in her excellent series that pays tribute to Block's mentors and inspirations.

"Shake 'Em On Down" (Stony Plain Records) is her tribute to Mississippi Fred McDowell, who she met in the mid-1960s.

Block's style and ability with the acoustic guitar should be familiar to most blues fans. She's been absorbing the music since her teens, until it's difficult to tell where her influences end and Rory begins.

When she plays (I saw her just recently an all-acoustic blues show), her level of intensity rocks her slender frame, and she looks for the world to be possessed by the old demons of the blues who roamed the Delta and lurked at the Crossroads. She sounds great too.

Block has never sounded finer than here, with her multi-layered guitar and slide work, both re-interpreting McDowell in four original tunes magically imbued with the spirit of this music, and re-imagining eight McDowell tunes with both an eerie faithfulness and her own unique visdion.

She covers McDowell classics like "Kokomo Blues," "Shake 'Em On Down," "Worried Mind" and "Write Me A Few Of Your Lines." Her own contributions, sounding like they could been written in Mississippi decades ago, include "Steady Freddy" and "Mississippi Man."

Block's always introspective liner notes explain the motives behind her own songs, and talk of her inspirations and her "fulfillment of purpose" in her ongoing work on this series -- the two previous are "Blues Walkin' Like A Man," a tribute to Son House, and "The Lady and Mr. Johnson," a Robert Johnson tribute.

This is an outstanding album -- for its musical sophistication, it's passionate guitar and vocals, and for the joy of hearing this fine old music expressed so beautifully in such a modern soul.

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