Charlie Musselwhite: Juke Joint Chapel Review

With his latest release, Juke Joint Chapel, blues harpist and vocalist Charlie Musselwhite has compiled an impressive release full of five originals and seven covers.  The album, like Musselwhite’s background, is a blend of Mississippi, Memphis, Chicago, and California blues.  Musselwhite is backed up by an impressive band, including Matt Stubbs on guitar, Mike Phillips on bass, and June Core on drums.

Musselwhite is an artist with a lot of credibility.  The winner of seven Grammy Awards, 27 Blues Music Awards, and a Blues Hall of Fame inductee, the bar is set high quite high for Musselwhite.  Unfortunately, Juke Joint Chapel does not quite reach that bar.  The problem with the album is not with Musselwhite’s playing; on the contrary, he – along with guitarist and soloist Mike Stubbs – appear in fine form throughout the record, playing interesting, fun, and impressive solos.  Musselwhite’s voice is one of the best in the business.  The problem with the album is simply that there is no material on it that is all that original.

There is a wide variety of traditional blues tunes, from a cover of Little Walter’s “It Ain’t Right” to “I’m Going Home,” a funky minor samba, a haunting rendition of the ballad “Cristo Redentor,” mixed alongside a few shuffles and rockers.  The song that truly stands out, however, is “Feel It In Your Heart,” a “forro,” which, as Musselwhite mentions, is “kind of like the blues of Brazil.”  It is a refreshing departure from more traditional material, and a very well-done tune.   The album is what it is: a good traditional blues record by good traditional blues musicians.  It is not an album that introduces much new material, or that provides much of a departure from the other renditions of the covers, but there is no denying that it is enjoyable to listen to these blues greats play these tunes.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– As The Crow Flies
– It Ain’t Right
– Feel It In Your Heart
– Cristo Redentor

The Big Hit

– Cristo Redentor

Review by Nik Rodewald

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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