Duwayne Burnside

REVIEW: Duwayne Burnside “Acoustic Burnside”


Duwayne Burnside – Acoustic Burnside

For years, I felt some young artists forsook their blues & soul roots for rap, hip hop & that new R&B music (Mariah Carey as opposed to Sam Cooke & Brook Benton). I was told the genres were still alive in the South, in juke joints & fish fry festivals but the majority of these artists, some quite talented, seemed to be just going through the motions. They’d sing standard blues songs & covers of familiar tunes & few actually recreated something challenging.

But this 12-cut blues collection by the son of legendary R. L. Burnside has the inherent archeology of a field recording that suggests we’re hearing a descendent who possesses the real thing. It quickens in the pores & bones with authenticity.

The acorn doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Duwayne does an admirable job throughout these pieces. A voice filled with the rural properties of the blues that are exemplary as they project smoothly produced hill country blues (“Poor Black Mattie”) & more.

What am I saying? Anyone who seeks the past quality in a revitalized style needs to look no further than Mr. Burnside. The emotion is not in the song itself but in the keywords sung. This is where blues singers who go through the motions just plod through progressions & spew the age-old poetry & miss the point. This is music you have to live first.

There are covers highlighted, but many originals recorded in 2019 in Mississippi by Dan Torigoe are further emphasized nicely in monaural. These don’t sound dated; they do sound musically like lost classics from the 30s recorded on modern equipment.

The 42-minute Acoustic Burnside (Drops Sept 23–Dolceola Recordings) is performed simplistically as it should with Duwayne Burnside (guitar/vocal on all songs), Pinkie Pulliam (bass) & Dolceola Recordings founder Dan Torigoe (piano).

Some for the unacquainted may be repetitious – “Alice Mae.” But the majority are solid with fiery rhythm & in some spots recorded a bit off the cuff. Classics like Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom,” unfolds with lots of resolute vocals, some improvising but capturing the vibrancy of Johnson’s masterpiece. There’s little here so sleek & polished that it would not capture the imaginations of the mainstream music-buying public.

Aficionados of the blues, white, black & whatever’s in-between, will be fascinated. It’s recorded the way the blues were meant to be heard. No Simonize slickness but smoky motivation. Burnside in his originals doesn’t rewrite past classics. He tackles more modern applicable topics.

Duwayne Burnside

So, with his first CD in 15 years, he does capture an ear with just an acoustic guitar & riveting Old Crow whiskey-tinted, Maduro puffing voice. Quite the accomplishment. “44 Pistol,” sounds like a Muddy Waters narrative & it’s excellent.

The blues live in Mr. Burnside’s house. Highlights – “Going Down South,” “Dust My Broom,” “Meet Me In the City,” “She Threw My Clothes Out,” & “44 Pistol,” & “Lord Have Mercy On Me.”

Smiling photo – by Taylor Rowell. CD @ https://www.facebook.com/duwayneburnsidemusic/

Enjoy our interview of Duwayne Burnside’s nephew, Cedric, here: Interview: Cedric Burnside on New Release, Growing up in the Hill Country Blues


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