Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Music
cover art

John-Alex Mason

Jook Joint Thunderclap

(John-Alex Mason; US: 15 Feb 2011; UK: Import)

Swampy boogie blues, with extra elements

Colorado’s John-Alex Mason specializes in a fuzz-friendly brand of swamp-boogie blues. It’s infectiously energetic, which very nearly compensates for his not-terribly-strong vocals. On songs like “My Old Lonesome Home” and “Rolled and Tumbled”, Mason’s scratch-tastic licks carve out a sonic landscape that is both comfortably familiar and refreshingly new.


So far, so good, so safe. What elevates this album far above the ordinary run of blues-guitar offerings are the many incidental flourishes that Mason grafts onto the basic blues template. “Come So Long” and “Riding On” both feature short, pithy raps from Cody Burnside (grandson of blues legend RL Burnside), which against all odds mesh seamlessly with the tunes. African instruments like djembe and balafone percolate throughout several tracks, adding layers of percussive interest, notably in “Riding On” and “Free”. With these global sounds added to the country accents of harmonica, mandolin and fiddle, the sonic palette grows richer song by song. Recommended.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.