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Quintus McCormick

Still Called the Blues

(Delmark; US: 24 Apr 2012; UK: 28 May 2012)

Watered-down offering is not impressive.

Two-thirds of the way through his watery offering Still Called the Blues, Quintus McCormick commits a faux pas that neatly sums up everything wrong about this album: he attempts a cover of the Beatles’ “Oh! Darling”. That song in its original is a fine example of usurping expectations: Paul McCartney was never known as a screecher or a howler, but for that tune he reportedly practiced his screaming for a month before entering the studio, and the results are there to hear.


Low-key crooning is McCormick’s default vocal setting, and its use on this song couldn’t be further removed from McCartney’s wrenching pain. Herein lies the problem with this record: it’s too damn smooth. It’s smooth in the bluesiness of opening track “I Gotta Go” — which admittedly features some nifty, gurgling guitar work — and it’s smooth in the neo-disco abomination that is “Searching For Your Love”. It’s smooth everywhere in between, too, whether in the bluesy showmanship of “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” or the R&B stylings of “Always”. Sorry, Quintus; stuff like “Always” and “Searching For Your Love” was never called the blues.

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.


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