Heavy State Loving Blues
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © January 2023
With Heavy State Loving Blues being Mississippi MacDonald’s eighth release since 2014, I’m going to start my own little personal ‘release date pool’ and pick the end of February, 2024 as for when I should expect to receive number nine. Mac does know how to bang them out.
With his last release – Do Right, Say Right – which I also had the pleasure to write about, reaching number one on the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association (IBBA) chart; Number seven on the Living Blues chart; and number one on the Roots Music Report (RMR) UK chart; from what I’m listening to, Mississippi MacDonald should expect all that and more with Heavy State Loving Blues.
As with that last release, except for the drummer, the music makers on Heavy State Loving Blues are: Mississippi MacDonald on guitars and vocals; Phil Dearing on guitars and keyboards; Elliot Boughen on bass; Lucy Dearing on backing vocals; the newest member of the band, “Texas” Joe McRoury on drums; and special guest vocalist, Vaneese Thomas. Of the disc’s ten tracks, nine are Oliver (Mississippi) MacDonald originals.
As a young boy, because of his love for the blues and having been the only kid in his school who had been to America, Oliver MacDonald acquired the nickname “Mississippi”. However, with his diverse style of play, many of these tracks could have any number of geographical locations precede his last name – and on the opening track, Chicago would be a good fit. The song is titled “Howlin’ Wolf” and from his twenty second guitar intro, his many stinging runs throughout, and his raspy bluesy vocals, Mississippi MacDonald is pretty much telling us he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in this genre and I’m indeed a believer. Meanwhile, behind all this scorching guitar work, the band is in a hard driving, highly funky groove that kind of had me baffled. It was Phil’s masterful synthesizing that actually caused me to contact Mississippi and ask if the horn section was left off of the credits. To that he replied, “It’s keyboard horns – but proper high-end samples, and we spent days on getting them right! Extreme levels of attention to detail.” I’ll say!
This duet with Vaneese Thomas is kind of like Mississippi meets Memphis. The way these two take turns belting out the soulful vocals on “Blind Leading The Blind”, gives you the impression they’ve been a duet of many years. On what is going to obviously be a constant, the rhythm – with powerful bass lines from Elliot, potent pounding of the skins by “Texas” Joe, and Phil playing a half-a-dozen instruments on the keyboard, is once again taken to a whole other level.
Lyrically, vocally, emotionally and musically, “I’ll Understand” is a total masterpiece. It’s a bluesy ballad that finds a very sensitive Mississippi trying to prepare himself for an inevitable breakup, while at the same time keeping a glimmer of hope that, after a while, she’ll come back. With slightly different lyrics, this song of hymnal quality could be sung at churches of any denomination.
“Trouble Doing The Right Thing” (Zachary Logan) and “The Devil Wants Payment” combine to create the perfect segue. The first is a country blues song that has Mississippi doing those exact things that he’s going to have to make good on, on the latter – a swampy, diabolical tale of the devil always getting his due.
The disc comes to a close with a six-minute track that features one minute of Mississippi Mac telling us about growing up back in the old days, when you actually had to buy records instead of hearing music on Spotify and I-Tunes. He then goes on to tell us about this record he saw in the blues section of the record shop that was black and white, with a picture of a Telecaster, and the name Albert Collins on it.
Once he finally saved up enough money to buy it, the record changed his life. It was a wonderful and warm way to honor his idol. However, it’s the other five minutes of “Blues For Albert”, where Mississippi goes into a relentless tear of some the best Albert Collins riffs I can ever recall hearing that really pays homage to the Ice Man. Wow! By far my favorite track of the lot.
Other tracks on yet another excellent Mississippi MacDonald release include: the title track, “Heavy State Loving Blues”; “Heading South”; “(I Ain’t Gonna) Lie No More”; and “I’ve Been Searching” (Wright/Williams/Jamerson).
should like to find out more about Mississippi MacDonald and this release, just go to his website: www.mississippimacdonald.com. Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy”
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient