Buddy Guy is a National Treasure! The 86-year-old, living blues legend is one of the last of the OG’s. He was running up and down the highways and making blues masterpieces before most of us were born. On this latest release, The Blues Don’t Lie, undoubtedly proves that Buddy is the World Heavyweight Champion of the blues. He’s the real deal. It doesn’t get much better than Buddy… from his singing, his guitar playing, to his showmanship on stage. While most artists slow down later in life, he shows no signs of slowing down. As cliché as it sounds, he is truly getting better with age.
On this project, Guy once again enlisted the expertise of Tom Hambridge, his long-time drummer, songwriter, and producer to partner on the making of the record. In addition to having a world class roster of musicians on the project, Buddy also has quite an impressive list of guests artists as well. Mavis Staples, Elvis Costello, James Taylor, Jason Isbell, Bobby Rush, and Wendy Moten all contribute stellar guest vocal performances to the project. The production and song writing on the project are equally as impressive along with the guest artists and musicians on the project.
The release starts off with the up-tempo single “Let My Guitar Do the Talking”, and Buddy does just that. The song has a tight rhythm section in Tom Hambridge and Michael Rhodes on Bass, which is perfectly accented by the stylistic B3 Playing of fellow Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame member Reese Wynans. The song is reminiscent of the power of Cream in their prime with the funkiness of Tower of Power. It’s a fantastic way to start the record and let the listener know that Buddy’s still got it.
“Blues Don’t Lie” is the title track off of the record, and has an instantly memorable hook which is on par with Buddy’s iconic “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues” track from the 90s. “Blues Don’t Lie” is a descriptive narrative of the meaning of the blues. At one point in the song, Buddy proclaims…
“If you ain’t got the blues, just keep on living”.
For many the Blues, and music in general, is therapeutic and helps the listener process the emotions of life. This song takes the listener to a place where they can hopefully evaluate their life circumstances and be better for it.
The track “We Go Back” features the instantly recognizable voice of Blues icon Mavis Staples. The song reflects back on the civil rights movement and other struggles faced by so many during that time. The song may seem like a song about the challenges of a generation, but in actuality, it is a story of triumph over struggles through faith and grace. It is a reminder that we still have a long way to go, but we can get through it if we believe.
“Gunsmoke Blues” is a haunting track that features a remarkable performance by Jason Isbell. The song discusses the epidemic of gun violence we face in America and other parts of the world. The stance of the song mentions the politics and divisiveness of the issue but focusses more on the tragedy of the loss of life. The song exudes emotions of anger and hopelessness in an effort to be a catalyst for change. While the subject matter of this song may be dark and heavy, the song is masterfully written and performed.
While two of the tracks on this project deal with heavy subject matter, overall the release features a great mix of up-tempo numbers and a few traditional blues numbers thrown in for good measure. “House Party” featuring Wendy Moten and “Back Door Scratchin’ ” are two other stand out up-temp songs. On the traditional side, Buddy also does versions of B.B. King’ s ” Sweet Thing” and “I’m A King Bee”. The Blues Don’t Lie is a well-rounded release and features something for most blues fans.
Buddy Guy is one of the most decorated Blues artists ever, and deservedly so. Over his career, he has won 8 Grammy Awards, an astounding 38 Blues Music Awards, a Kennedy Center Honors award, the Presidential National Medal of Arts, and is a Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee. I’ll say it again… Buddy Guy is a National Treasure. I recently had the privilege of seeing him at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He’s as good now as he was when I saw him back in the 90s. Do yourself a favor and go pick up a copy of The Blues Don’t Lie, and go see Buddy live if you get the chance. The Blues Don’t Lie is one of his best works in a vast career of great releases. It is an incredible record and genuinely makes me happy. It may just be the cure for the blues.
The Review: 9.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Let My Guitar Do The Talking
– We Go Back (featuring Mavis Staples)
– The Blues Don’t Lie
– Gunsmoke Blues (featuring Jason Isbell)
The Big Hit
– Gunsmoke Blues (featuring Jason Isbell)
Buy the album: Amazon