Bobby Rush
Photo: Laura Carbone / Missing Piece Group

Funky Bluesman Bobby Rush Offers All of His Love

As the title All My Love For You suggests, this is a love album. Blues artist Bobby Rush solicitously offers his feelings and suggests the best is yet to come.

All My Love For You
Bobby Rush
Deep Rush / Thirty Tigers
23 August 2023

Blues Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Rush is having a career renaissance. The musician has been nominated for six Grammy Awards during the 21st century and won two (in 2017 and 2021) for Best Traditional Blues Album. The general excellence of his latest release, All My Love For You, suggests he is in line to win another. The older man is still full of life and exuberantly shares his vitality through song.

The funky harmonica playing, slide guitar thrumming, gravel-mouthed singing artist has penned ten semi-confessional tunes full of sly humblebrags, nasty double-entendres, and earnest high spirits about his present joy. Rush begins the record with a remembrance of his past as a nine-year-old carrying water and picking cotton in the fields of the Deep South. Rush isn’t bitter about it, even though he notes no child should ever have to work so hard. Instead, he’s amazed at how far he has come—and that he still has a long way to go! “I’m Free”, he sings gleefully over a bouncing guitar riff. He might be pushing ninety, but his best days are still ahead.

Rush has written his autobiography, I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya: My American Blues Story (2021). But if you don’t know who he is, the musician declares, “I’m the One” who put the funk into the blues. He boasts of his prowess over a fast-paced boogie beat to demonstrate what he means. “You can’t lose with the stuff I use,” he sings gruffly. The physicality of the music validates what he vocalizes.

Rush’s pleasures often take carnal forms that he humorously expresses. Take his appreciation for his “TV Mama”, the one with “the big widescreen” with the measurements “36-34-43 in the hip, maybe just a little bit more”. He keeps the tone light-hearted. Even when Rush inventories his desires in “I Want To”, the bawdy lyrics playfully describe his sexual aspirations. He wants to play cow and bull rather than toss the BS about something more emotionally meaningful. His lascivious sentiments are backed by greasy guitar licks that make one drool in anticipation of what Rush will sing and play next.  

The most outrageous track is “One Monkey Can Stop a Show”, which heralds back to Rush’s R&B hit 30 years ago, “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show”. The old song concerned Rush, telling a woman he would find someone else to take her place if she left him. In the present track, Rush acknowledges the woman’s power over him. He tells the story of his friend Paul, castrated by his girlfriend, and how another woman poisoned her cheating lover’s food. The song is purposely funny and peppered with cunning references. Rush delivers the bad news with a deadpan expression. He knows there’s nothing funnier than playing it straight.

All My Love For You has its serious side. He threatens his lover with “You’re Gonna Need a Man Like Me” and mourns a lost love in “I Can’t Stand It”. Both cuts bristle with intensity. The blues is a feeling indeed. Thankfully, he’s mostly happy and in a good mood. As the record’s title says, this is a “love” album. Rush solicitously offers his feelings and suggests the best is yet to come.

RATING 8 / 10