Mitch Mann: Blackwater Creek Review

Mitch Mann may not be a name that’s immediately recognizable, but this isn’t because of a lack of involvement on the Alabama blues scene. Mann has been writing and recording for years, lending his guitar (and occasionally voice) to various artists (including The Fiddleworms) and writing and co-writing tracks for others. Mann pulls heavily from his experience specifically as a songwriter on Blackwater Creek, favoring simple, stripped down arrangements that don’t distract from Mann’s melodic turns but still stand strongly on their own. Mann’s preference for sparse recordings might seem like it could wear thin after the album’s fourteen tracks, but the occasional addition of harps, horns, and various other instrumentation helps keep the songwriter’s acoustic guitar formula from getting tired, and by the time “Good Things” wraps up you’ll be satisfied with Mann’s solo effort.

Mann’s brand of Alabama blues definitely isn’t outlaw. Mann coats his southern sound with a type of smooth, clean-cut pleasantness, taking notes from country music (“Hold Her While You Got Her”) and folk (“Make This Last Minute Last”). Mann’s sweetness suffers from feeling a little contrived at times; while “Baby Don’t Forget” offers a different melodic approach than some of the Blackwater Creek’s more straight-forward blues material, the European-inspired track seems to reinforce the smooth blues motif prevalent everywhere else. The album breaks this frame for four minutes in two important places, however. The first is the standout track “Crows,” a dirty southern track with Mann’s best vocal performance on the album, and the second is the album’s title track, which, being an instrumental, changes Blackwater Creek’s focus completely for a few short minutes.

Blackwater Creek isn’t a challenging listen, but it’s not supposed to be. Mitch Mann has spent a lot of time working on other musicians’ albums, and Blackwater Creek is a fitting solo debut from a man who suddenly realized he had enough material and practice to record one. The sincerity on “More than I Could Ever Show,” the local patriotism on “Tom Clark,” and the nostalgia of “St. Louis Blues” all make this album an interesting listen regardless of the occasional contrived moments that surface from time to time.

The Review: 7.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Crows
– St. Louis Blues
– Blackwater Creek

The Big Hit

– Crows

Review by Richard MacDougall

Buy the album: Amazon

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Bulk Email Sender