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Album Review: Mud Morganfield - Portrait

Artist: Mud Morganfield

Album: Portrait

Release: 2022

Mud Morganfield's latest album on the Delmark imprint is proof that the apple doesn't roll all that far from the tree. It is a classic Chicago blues recording that is swimming in old school swag and spring reverb with the classic Chicago blues ensemble that his father, Muddy Waters, practically single handedly invented. The fourteen song set clocks in just over an hour, moving through all the classic Chicago moves with a band of seasoned pros laying down some thick blues that only comes from decades of experience.

The record is a reissue of an earlier recording called Son Of The Seventh Son from the Severn label, with a couple added songs. It is a throwback to the heyday of Chicago blues similar to other modern artists like Nick Moss, Kim Wilson or The Cash Box Kings that are recording authentic Chicago 50's era blues in the modern day. It has all the pieces in all the right spots with the real grease to boot.

It has the Muddy influence all over it. With an old Muddy classic You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had the comparison clearly becomes a tribute. The vocal is spot on and the slide guitar solo is a take on the classic Muddy solo.

Blues In My Shoes is one track that steps out of the classic straight Chicago formula. This one is a bit funkier than the blues of his fathers era, reminding me of something that Albert Collins would've recorded. It's funky, driving and steeped in tradition, but definitely coming from a place that was found in the blues in a post Chuck Berry world.

Midnight Lover, a vintage minor 12 bar blues, is a standout to this writer. There is ambience to spare with this track. Mud's voice is as patient as an old dog and as big as an elephant. It is peppered with tasteful piano, guitar and harmonica solos. Everyone gets a turn in this almost eight minute cut that never feels too long, which is a testament to the mastery of the band.

Another track I really liked is Go Ahead and Blame Me. It feels like a throwback to 1955, before rock and roll changed the world of music. This one definitely burns hot on a low flame reminding me a bit of the standard Nine Below Zero. It is in this space that I think Mud Morganfield feels the most comfortable. The slow to medium tempo fits him and the band like a glove.

The next cut Leave Me Alone is a classic mid tempo shuffle with lots of bounce and swing. A nice walking bass line that is locked into a drummer that's working the ride cymbal like it owes him money drives this one home to Bluesville, where it needs to be.

If you like traditional electric blues in its most basic and raw form this record will not disappoint. It has all the right stuff and none of the fluff! Digging deep into the blues is clearly the business these musicians are in. If you are looking for a cutting edge album, this isn't it. If you want the real stuff you'll love it!  


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