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CD Review


"Death Letter"
Dreamvox Records
CD Review by Pat Benny

After the depression crippled our nation’s economy, after the Ladies of the Blues; after Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie and Ma Rainey had made their mark in history, there emerged from The Deep South the troubadours of The Blues. Robert Johnson, Charlie Paxton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, to name a few, traveled the dusty roads into American history.

Armed with a guitar and a spare change of clothes, these brave men, so passionately devoted to their music, traveled the countryside to play for whoever had the time and the coins to listen. Whether they played in isolated juke joints or city street corners, the threat of being beaten and robbed was never to be taken lightly. Certainly, the danger of their profession helped create the ethereal texture of the lone guitar man.

Eventually, the times would change, and so the economy and so the technology, for nothing changes music more than technology. These wandering gypsies of the Delta would make their way to Chicago , electrify their guitars, and a new generation of the Blues would evolve.

How fortunate for us that there are artists like Paris James to keep the memory of those times alive. How lucky we are to have guitarists like James to keep the integrity of the Delta Blues intact. With his debut recording, “Death Letter,” James evokes the spirit of this music with astounding ability.

With his clear, precise vocals and intricate guitar licks, James recaptures the soul stirring feel of the Delta. He strikes that nerve in the heart of every man, part goodness, part evil; part joy and part sorrow. James plucks at the strings of the soul, while his slide sends a chill up the spine. His vocals convey the paradox of a man’s yearning to travel and the need to settle down with that one good woman.

This recording is more than a tribute to the troubadours of the Blues; it is a work of art in its own right. Paris James’ own tunes, “Skinnin’ Board Stomp,” “Folk Tales” and “Ride That Tide,” mesh perfectly with the tunes of Robert Johnson, Son House and Blind Lemon Jefferson.

The only area in which “Death Letter” falls short is its length. Weighing in at under thirty-two minutes, it leaves the listener hungry for more. Let’s hope there will be more to come from this talented musician.




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