Your should hope to have this much life force at the age of 82. Sixty years into his career, and still logging more than two-hundred live dates each year, bluesman Bobby Rush sounds as vital as he did in his twenties. Born in Louisiana and musically schooled in Chicago clubs, he finally broke out as a solo artist in the early 1970s, adding soul and funk sounds to a blues base as he released a long string of albums and singles. This first release for Rounder teams him with producer Scott Billington and a slate of New Orleans musicians who double-down on Rush’s funky brand of the blue grooves. Rush’s voice is strong and his harmonica says as much as his lyrics.
At turns he’s ornery, defiant and stalwart in his own defense; he’s lived long enough to know what he wants, and what he doesn’t, but he’s not immune to the world’s irresistible forces. He’s a victim of circumstance, accused of crimes he didn’t commit and hamstrung by the siren’s call of mistreating women. The slow, spare blues of “Got Me Accused” provides the perfect space for a moving vocal and a deeply felt harmonica solo, and a horn section adds snap to the “Polk Salad Annie”-styled funk of “Catfish Stew.” Guests include Vasti Jackson, Dave Alvin, Joe Bonamassa and Keb’ Mo’, the latter adding his slide guitar to “Nighttime Gardener.” But Rush is the star of the show, and one who’s still shining bright and blue. [©2016 Hyperbolium]