Marking 25 years of the musical partnership between guitarist Skip McDonald and producer Adrian Sherwood, If You Want Loyalty Buy a Dog is a textbook Little Axe album, stuffed with dub-blues grooves that manage to be soothing yet unsettling.
The astringency of McDonald's National steel guitar tone is offset by the lightness of his touch. Once again, Sherwood and he unerringly locate the shared territory of blues and reggae, in grooves ranging from the chain-gang trudge of "Grace" to the Nyabinghi-beat percussion chant of "I Got da Blues". Harmonica lines invade the slide-guitar dubs, and occasionally a chunky tack-piano riff adds pep. Sampled gospel and blues moans haunt the backing tracks throughout, strained through years of history, nowhere better than on "Song to Sing".
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