“This record is dedicated to the great state of Kansas,” the blues trio Moreland & Arbuckle declare in the liner notes to 1861, an album named after the year Kansas became a state. “We have cultivated a strong love for our home state,” they state, “We hope that love is reflected in our music.” The shame is that, when it comes down to it, there’s nothing uniquely Kansan about their music. I’m not sure what a specifically Kansan version of the blues would sound like, so I’m fascinated by the notion. Instead, this is your basic electric blues, albeit played by musicians steeped in the traditions of the music, and certainly accomplished at playing their instruments. Strict genre fans, listeners who love well-played blues, will eat this up and be more than satisfied. But I’m stuck on the promise of regional variation, on the way musicians devoted to a home state not associated with this genre can bring the unique qualities of that state into their music, forging something new. I’m stuck on a dream they aren’t trying to fulfill.
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