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Michael Messer - Lucky Charms (Cooking Vinyl)
Review by Emily Clarke


People are always saying that you need to take the blues somewhere else to make it interesting. Michael Messer is trying. But, bringing a turntable as a last ditch attempt is a valiant attempt, and probably one of the best things about this album. The latest offering from Cooking Vinyl’s bluesman is part homage to the greats, and part random hero worship.

Take Me Back can't help but aspire to The Doors, strangely, and Messer tries some Morrison esque vocal riding. Not too shabby, but not really enough to light your… no I’m not going to go there.

Sad Side of the Note is a great track, which actually makes use of that young boy (Louis Genis)in the back with all the samples. It tumbles swaggishly into the low down blues of Sunflower River, which has some of the sweetest slide on the album. Genis samples some old man blues underneath to place this ode somewhere between the ancient and the ‘breakthrough’.

Thanks to Genis, it all goes a bit Moby on Knife Song, but luckily the slide is good enough to keep you rolling. It seems that the efforts of Messer to conceptualise his music has left him making obvious choices.

The homage to Steve Cropper would probably have had him cringing while Messer seems to be on some name dropping mission. Luckily he gets caught up in the eternal "down here where the sun goes down" lyrical circle. Back away slowly, no sudden movements, or we might disturb him.

Havana Blues is Messer's attempt at ethereal and haunting; unfortunately, the references make you realise Messer's probably never been to Cuba, and you surely can’t get away with saying your guitar "burns like a cigar', can you? I can barely hear it.

Onto better things though. Turning Blue creeps in with the kind of folk blues you'd associate with John Renbourn, but it just stays on the right side of acoustic. Here, the samples fill the space and actually match the music. Call me boring, but this gentle Delta blues track is modest, and actually shows off how Messer can play.

The closing track, Crackly Hums, is just that. Expectations aside, this is a real showcase for Messer's slide, and it burns. One reviewer said that this album "does for rhythm and blues what Jamie Cullum did for jazz." Aside from the fact that Jamie Cullum probably killed jazz, I can see what the errant reviewer is trying to say; Messer is pushing out at something, it just falls a little short of stunning. Definitely worth a listen though..


Avaialble from the Cooking Vinyl website: www.cookingvinyl.com