Forget innovation. This blues throwback spins gold from familiar elements
Mud Morganfield sings blues the old-fashioned way: with growl worthy of John Lee Hooker and a scratchy guitar that sounds like it emerged from the swamps of the Delta. His songs are scattered with references to sevenths sons, mannish boys and things that you ain't got, when they aren't rife with double entendres (it isn’t really fish he's angling for in "Catfishing"). Album opener "Short Dress Woman" promises a honky-tonk vibe with plenty of bouncy piano and harmonica, but happily things soon get grittier.
"Son of the Seventh Son" brings us to a shadowy neighborhood of downtempo murkiness, and tunes like "Health" and the seven-minute-plus "Midnight Lover" follow suit. The slow songs tend to be longer than the uptempo tunes, which is as it should be, and they're more memorable as well. Pianos and guitars are rounded out with a solid rhythm section and plenty of moaning, keening harmonica. There's plenty of blues out there, but few vocalists are as adept as Mud at tapping into that classic, bewildered angst. Maybe that's to be expected from a man who is none other than the eldest son of Muddy Waters, but the point here is not who the father was, but what the son does. This son, at least, makes some fine music.