REVIEW: On “Complicated Mess,” Doug Deming Proves He’s a Versatile Bluesman


I’ve written before that the intersection between blues and Americana is difficult to define. Florida Gulf Coast resident Doug Deming’s highly enjoyable new album, Complicated Mess (Ellersoul Records), stands at that intersection. Deming, the 2013 winner of the recipient of the Blues Blast Music Awards’ Sean Costello Rising Star Award, bases his guitar-driven blues on the styles of T-Bone Walker, Charlie Christian, and Robert Lockwood Jr. While based in the blues, Deming freely mixes in West Coast and Texas Swing, as on the highly danceable “You Rascal You” and “Captain’s Quarters,” where his guitar is complemented by horns. “Moment of Your Time” crosses over into roots rock.

On Complicated Mess, produced by Jon Atkinson, Deming presents compelling interpretations of three classic songs that blues traditionalists will want to seek out. I’ve already mentioned “You Rascal You,” by the great Sam Theard. Deming clear, soulful voice and the backing harmonica carry his cover of Lazy Lester’s “Blues Stop Knockin’.” His cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’” is a study in how to bend the blues to swing.

Complicated Mess has something for everyone: traditionalists, contemporary blues lovers, and Americana fans seeking out crossover material. On track after track, Deming proves his versatility, whether as an original artist or an interpreter, a singer or a guitarist, and as a musician flexible enough to easily adapt to many styles. This terrific blues album will make a great addition to any record collection.

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