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CD REVIEW -- Linsey Alexander
GLT blues radio

LINSEY ALEXANDER

 

Come Back Baby

 

Delmark Records

 

13 tracks/65:01

 

Linsey Alexander CD art

 

by Mark Thompson

 

It took more than 50 years for singer and guitarist Linsey Alexander to “make it”. Playing dates in clubs on Chicago’s South Side before making inroads to venues in the rest of the city, he honed his skills and songwriting ability without much fanfare. Even three self-released recordings failed to raise his profile beyond journeyman status. Then Delmark Records entered the picture, rewarding Alexander’s decades of effort with a 2012 release, Been There Done That, which received wide-spread critical acclaim.

 

With his latest release, Alexander quickly shows that he still has plenty of compelling material that mines various styles of Chicago’s rich musical heritage. The title cut is a stoned soul groover as the singer’s striking voice sails over a melodic horn pattern.  The opener, “Little Bit of Soap’” also benefits from the horns – Ryan Nyther on trumpet, Chris Neal on tenor sax, and Bill McFarland on trombone – while Alexander vows to wash away any traces of an unfaithful lover. “Booty Call” lacks a strong lyrical narrative but Greg McDaniel’s bouncing bass line ensures that this number will quickly fill any club’s dance floor. Alexander has more woman troubles on “Funky Feeling,” leading him to pry some biting licks out of his instrument.

 

Veteran Roosevelt Purifoy handles keyboards throughout the disc, with his organ playing being the focal point on “Booze and Blues”. The leader’s guitar work on “Snowing in Chicago” is as cutting as the city’s winter weather.  McDaniel and drummer Pooky Styx lay down a solid shuffle on “Things Done Changed,” while Alexander offers a terse response to the racism he has faced throughout his life.  “Goin’ Out Walkin’” finds him hitting the road, promising not to rest until he has his baby back. Purifoy’s nimble piano phrases push the singer along, leading to his own six-string ride.

 

Three tracks feature the great Billy Branch on harmonica. On “Call My Wife,” his bright tone and hearty blowing lighten the mood of Alexander’s vivid portrayal of a whiskey-soaked lost evening.  The emotional turmoil continues on “Can’t Drink, Can’t Sleep, Can’t Eat,” another forlorn tale of love lost. Branch provides expert accompaniment to support Alexander’s vocal, then plays a twisting solo that utilizes his entire instrument.  He switches to chromatic harp on “Too Old to Be a New Fool,” a slow blues highlight with a gritty vocal from Alexander.  Equally strong are “I Got a Woman” and Willie Dixon’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby” – the former has Alexander’s guitar building the tension to a fevered pitch while the latter puts the focus on his passionate singing.

 

Linsey Alexander excels on this project as a singer, guitarist and songwriter. There is real depth in his performances that embrace the traditions while adding some modern, uptown enhancements. If you have not heard any of Alexander’s previous efforts, you need to check this one out, especially if you are a fan of blues Chicago-style!

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