Hudspeth & Taylor – Ridin’ The Blinds
12 songs – 38 minutes
Ridin’ The Blinds is the second album from Brandon Hudspeth and Jaisson Taylor after their 2019 debut, Folie A Deux, and is a highly enjoyable collection of 12 classic acoustic blues songs. Hudspeth is fine guitar player, very much at home recreating sounds from the 1920s and 1930s, while Taylor sings in a joyously traditional manner as well as adding percussion.
Many of the tracks will be familiar to fans of pre-war acoustic blues, with the likes of “Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home”, “Hey Hey”, “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” and “Can’t Be Satisfied” all covered many times before. There are also some lesser known gems, however, such as Otto Virgial’s “Little Girl In Rome” and Willie Borum’s “Lonesome Home Blues.” The majority of the artists covered are Delta blues musicians, but Mance Lipscomb and Blind Blake represent different elements of early blues recordings. And Hudspeth and Taylor throw themselves at all the tracks with raucous enthusiasm, Taylor’s urgent percussion adding real 21st century bite to a traditional number like “Blues In The Bottle” or “Write Me A Few Of Your Lines.”
Produced by Hudspeth and Taylor, Ridin’ The Blinds was engineered, mixed and mastered by Duane Trower at Weights And Measures SoundLab in Kansas City, MO, and he has captured some crisp, aurally captivating performances that can transport a listener back 100 years in time. The duo benefit from modern recording techniques, with subtle layering of instruments and clever tweaks of arrangement, but the essence of the album is found in Hudspeth and Taylor’s technical virtuosity, deep emotional commitment and obvious love of the genre. Hudspeth’s fingers fly around the fretboard, either finger-picking or playing slide guitar, underlining the complexity of the original recordings. The way everything builds on “You Gotta Walk The Lonesome Valley” is a joy to behold. And Taylor’s voice is a true instrument of beauty. His performance on “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” is particularly compelling.
What is particularly impressive about Ridin’ The Blinds is how Hudspeth and Taylor manage to pay their respects to the original songs, playing the music with deference and great skill, whilst also giving them an elusive, modernizing sheen, through the use of current recording techniques such as multitracking, as well as attacking the songs with energy and aggression.
Hudspeth and Taylor also cleverly tweak the arrangements of a number of tracks, so something like Mance Lipscomb’s “Run Sinner Sun” neatly combines Lipscomb’s original finger-picked lines with slide licks that recall the genius Texas Gospel of Blind Willie Johnson. Muddy Water’s “I Can’t Be Satisfied” is played at a rare lick whilst retaining the curious frustrated joviality of the original.
Ridin’ The Blinds is a very enjoyable release from Hudspeth and Taylor. Highly recommended.
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