Lurrie Bell: The Devil Ain’t Got No Music Review

In his latest release, The Devil Ain’t Got No Music, Chicago blues guitarist/singer/songwriter Lurrie Bell seeks to meld gospel and traditional blues into a unique new style. According to Bell, “I had always wanted to make a record to show my gratitude for gospel music. I’m a bluesman but I’ve also played a lot of gospel songs for myself and for my family when I’m at home. The music gives me a sense of peace that I can’t find anywhere else.”

The album is neither straight ahead blues, nor is it – by any stretch of the imagination – pure gospel. The best way to describe the sound of this album is to imagine a few old, black Church musicians who stick around the church jamming and singing long after the service has ended, but while the sermon is still fresh on their minds. Bell is featured on acoustic guitar and vocals on this stripped down, earthy record, but has the occasional help of phenomenal percussionist Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith and upright bassist Josef Ben Israel. Joe Louis Walker makes a couple guest appearances on slide guitar and vocals, and Matthew Skoller (who also produces the album) and Billy Branch play the blues harp on a couple tunes.

The album gets to a somewhat disappointing and shocking start with “Swing Low” a tune that demonstrates just how stripped down the album is. While it’s not a bad tune, it is not in the right spot on the album. It simply catches the listener a little too off guard. However, the album grows on the listener as it continues, finally concluding with a beautiful meditation on the Reverend Gary Davis tune “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” Bell reaches perfection on blending blues and gospel on “Search Me Lord,” which showcases classic gospel vocal harmonies along with Bell’s unmistakable acoustic playing. “Don’t Let the Devil Ride” is sure to capture the attention and hearts of traditional blues lovers, and “Peace in the Valley” is a beautiful ballad featuring Joe Louis Walker. Bell adds a wonderful guitar solo on “I’ll Get to Heaven on My Own,” which perfectly captures the spirit of an after-church jam session by a couple seasoned blues veterans.

Traditional blues and gospel fans will love this album, but those who are expecting to hear more full band arrangements will be disappointed. To be fair, Bell created this album to meld two musical styles and show his appreciation for gospel music and there is no doubt some reviews will criticize him for a lack of perfection and commercial appeal. That being said, Bell embarks on a unique quest and – while he hasn’t quite seamlessly fused the two genres together yet – the end result is a fresh, new take on two of the oldest and most influential styles of American music that deserves to be listened to a time or twelve.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Search Me Lord
– Don’t Let the Devil Ride
– Peace in the Valley
– Death Don’t Have No Mercy

The Big Hit

– Don’t Let the Devil Ride

Review by Nik Rodewald

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2 Responses to “Lurrie Bell: The Devil Ain’t Got No Music Review”

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