Album: Jim Byrnes, Everywhere West (Black Hen/CRS)

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The Independent Culture

Everywhere West continues mining the antique blues vein that made last year's My Walking Stick such a delight, with Jim Byrnes's sepiatint vocals bringing a whiskery poignancy to covers of "He Was a Friend Of Mine" and "Take Out Some Insurance on Me", the latter slouching along in authentically enervated Jimmy Reed manner.

There's a rich mix of languid country blues like "Walk On" and "Bootlegger's Blues", etched in banjo, mandolin and fiddle, and more urbane material like Byrnes's own "Hot as a Pistol", a raw slide-guitar blues smouldering with organ and horns, while his Woodbine drawl complains darkly about "the shape this woman's got me in". Straddling both styles is the gospel-streaked "Yield Not to Temptation", which manages to be stylish, elegant and assured.

DOWNLOAD THIS Hot as a Pistol; Take Out Some Insurance on Me; Walk On; Storm Warning