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Bill Sims

Bill Sims

(Warner Bros.)

Mr. Sims’ self-titled album seeks to pay tribute to family legacies and, as such, one can’t fault his more laid back approach to the blues. Rather than trying to painstakingly recreate an era which predates him, Sims plays in an organic fashion, no instuments over-riding others. The lyrics, however, are banal and the music never manages to transcend a bar-room band’s catchiness.


Songs like “Dark Moon Rising” promise much in the way of guitar phrasing and situational woe. God forbid, but Sims doesn’t sound blue enough; he is more lackluster than sad. “Smoky City” hints at the loneliness one never escapes in a big city, but never evokes the bleak power of John Lee Hooker’s narratives.


The news isn’t all that disheartening, though; Sims is a fluid hand with the guitar and what his band lacks, his solos compensate for, handsomely. One of the worst cliches in the blues trade can be heard in the sustained note, but Sims makes it sound fresh and meaningful. His covers of other people’s songs, like Big Bill Broonzy’s “I Wonder When Do I Get to Be Called a Man,” resonate with his love for the material and a personal understanding of the genre. In fact, listening to his quieter songs makes one wonder when he will record solo, rather than settle for pablum like “Just Like You.”

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