Big Daddy Wilson (USA)

Released in 2017 on Ruf Records, Neckbone Stew is the latest twist in a fascinating life story.

“For me,” he says, “it sits on top. The latest is always the greatest. I was in the mood, like John L. Hooker said.” If Neck Bone Stew brings together a variety of genres, then it also unites a dream-team of musicians who helped these 13 songs soar. Led by the multi-instrumental talents of Wilson himself on vocals, guitar and percussion, long-standing Trio members Cesare Nolli (guitar) and Paolo Legramandi (bass) brought fire and flair to sessions at Italy’s Fire Place Room. “These guys are just incredible musicians and great to work with,” reflects the bandleader. “I have some special guests, too. The phenomenal Ruthie Foster. Mr. Staffan Astner. One of my blues heroes, the great Eric Bibb. And this CD is produced by the Goosebumps Brothers. As for the songs, they run the gamut. There’s the rolling acoustic blues of Cross Creek Road. The exuberant brass lines, wah guitar and bad-luck lyric of 7 Years. The melancholy clipped chords of Damn If I Do, with its depiction of a lover brought his knees (“You got your hooks so deep in my heart/You got me crawlin’, but still you won’t stop”). The album’s musical variety, meanwhile, is exemplified by the magical moment when the title track switches from an aching slide-blues into a reggae strut, with lyrics describing a lover who “got them big old hips, look just like two battleships”. Wilson is equally adept on the sun kissed balladry of I Just Need A Smile, which pairs lush chords with a lyric that implores us to ditch our gadgets and reengage with our humanity. “It’s all about life,” decides the bandleader of the album’s subject matter. “But there are two things you need in a good blues CD – a woman and some food.”

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