September 27, 2023
Lightnin’ Malcolm – Eye of the Storm

Lightnin’ Malcolm – Eye of the Storm

Whiskey Bayou Records

11 Tracks, 50 minutes

Blues fans who frequent Clarksdale, Mississippi are likely already familiar with the raw stomp music performed by Lightnin’ Malcolm.  He has played with RL Burnside, T Model Ford, and Cedric Burnside, just to name a few, and was briefly with the North Mississippi Allstars, although he is most often heard as a powerful one-man-band.  Malcolm’s latest release, “Eye of the Storm”, (which is produced by Tab Benoit and released on Whiskey Bayou Records), is sure to increase his popularity with those less familiar with hill country blues. Some excellent musicians join him, including Brady Blade and Tab Benoit both on drums, and Tony Hall (from Dumpstaphunk) on bass.  This gives his performance a slightly fuller sound, although still somewhat minimalistic, as the genre tends to be.

Nine of the tracks offer variations on the hypnotic traditional hill country sound, while “Too Many Nights” interestingly seems to have been influenced by country music.  The one drastically different song on the album is the title track.  “Eye of the Storm” is the most melodic track and stands out as being a slow, sweet number that could have easily been an old school R&B song.

Benoit records his artists playing live, with little to no chance to go back and correct any errors.  Therefore, none of the artists on the Whiskey Bayou label ever sound over-produced.  That technique can probably best be heard in the final track on the album, “Let’s Get Together”.  When you have a song that is basically about hitting on women, that also includes spoken-word sections, it could have easily ended up disastrous.  However, this song makes the listeners feel as if they are right there in studio, witnessing Malcolm ad lib.  At one point you can even hear band members laughing faintly in the background, as they were evidently surprised at Malcolm’s spontaneous lyrics.  The overall effect ends up being actually quite charming.

Of course, there will be some people who are simply not huge hill country blues fans, as some may find what is often a pounding, hypnotic beat too repetitive.  But fans of the genre will surely want to add this album to their collection.  You really can’t go wrong with Benoit’s approach to production and the excellent musicianship of Malcolm and the guest artists.

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