MVP is a solid dose of Texas bar-rocking blues. The combination of Malford Milligan on vocals, and Tyrone Vaughan on guitar hit you like an uppercut. Raw, bracing, tough as nails, Vaughan’s fretwork is all you might expect coming from the Vaughan family tree. The son of Jimmie and nephew of Stevie Ray, Tyrone is his own man, ably handling the expectations and proving he is ready to add to the legacy of his kin.
The album opens with “Soul Satisfaction” and immediately we’re off to the races. Milligan’s R&B crooner has been replaced by the growl of a desperate broke-down boogie man. His ragged, full-throated soul shouter is at the top of his game, and plays nicely against Vaughan’s razor-sharp riffs. The rhythm section is wound tighter than a spinster’s corset, courtesy of Chris Maresh on bass and Brannen Temple on drums. This is how you grab a listener’s attention.
“Dangerous Eyes” follows and keeps the party train rolling. The guitar work is springy, elastic, and extra greasy. Milligan is captivated by the eyes of a beautiful woman, and can’t help himself. He is caught in the throes of obsessive love at first sight. Expect a restraining order to follow.
One of the highlights of the record is a cover of Buddy Guy’s “Leave My Girl Alone.” A straight slow blues number, Vaughan tears it up, turning in a fiery and expansive solo. A warning from Milligan to a third party, the song implies there will be consequences if the meddling continues. Milligan gets downright creepy and menacing on this one. When he sings “I’m not an evil man, but I might do something wrong,” his voice projects a sinister undercurrent that makes your hair stand on end. By the end of the song you know he has already picked the place to dispose of the body.
Milligan and Vaughan work together so well that one hopes they take this act out on the road. Their collaboration is dynamic and intuitive, each man playing to his strengths while giving the other time in the spotlight. With talent like this the project could easily go off the rails and become self-indulgent. Milligan Vaughan avoid the trap by keeping the focus on the songs. Everything is working here, and MVP serves as a model for any young blues player that wants to see how you make a great breakout record. www.theflamestillburns.com