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Toronzo Cannon

John the Conquer Root

(Delmark; US: 20 Aug 2013; UK: 20 Aug 2013)

Sometimes-blistering set from Chicago buesman

For the first 6:17 of bluesman Toronzo Cannon’s latest full-length, it seems as if the veteran Chicago singer-guitarist has learned a whole new set of tricks. Opening track “John the Conquer Root”, from the album of the same name, is a heady mix of blistering Hendrix-esque guitar riffs and stomping rhythms, with Cannon reeling off molten licks one after the next. It’s a hell of a way to start the record, and easily the best song of the set, which quickly fall into a solid but not-terribly-surprising set of guitar-based electric blues. Nothing wrong with that, as Cannon shows his chops on feisty numbers like “Gentle Reminder” and the deep slow blues of “You Made Me This Way” to the acoustic duet “Let It Shine Always”. Cannon is one of the brightest lights in the blues firmament these days, and if the rest of the album doesn’t quite measure up to that killer opening, track, well, maybe he gift us a few more next time around. Besides, he plays a flying V (at least some of the time). What’s not to like?

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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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