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C.W Stoneking is quite a unique character, born to American parents in the North of Australia, he grew up in an aborigonal community, began playing guitar at 11 and settled on acoustic blues from around 18. He performs wearing clothes relevant to the era and tends to focus on playing very early blues. As one of the only performers today playing this style of music, he was bound to attract praise but when people say things like "If I close my eyes, it sounds like I'm in the Mississippi Delta" then I'm a bit surprised. I just don't hear it the same way, maybe I'm prejudiced seing him as a modern day white man but it just sounds like someone immitating the style but not necessarily feeling it.
That's not to say his music is not good, it's far better than the majority of things in the charts today. His guitar playing is very good, particularly the picking style reminiscent of Blind Blake that he uses, my main criticism is that he seems a little rigid in comparison to what is written about the original performers.
This album really is his best work so far, whilst I love the songs in previous albums, I prefer the original versions to his and on this album there's only one track on this album that isn't written by C.W.Stoneking (that being Brave Son of America of which he does a fine cover too), a nice early jazzy sounding blues is the outcome with deep and dark vocals and whilst the music is still rooted in the 20s,30s, the lyrics are a bit more relevant today.
Whether it's the rather lively Jungle Blues or the stripped down Early In the Mornin', this album has the brassy support of the artist's band and it gives him a much more rejuvenated sound. Take the track "I heard the marching of a Drum" it's distinctly different from his earlier albums and much more in the vein of the type of blues you are likely to find on the Reefer Jazz compilation. I'm glad to report that this is a top album and that you should definitely give it a go!