From the very first lines of "Ol' Man Blues" on Richard Ray Farrell's latest CD, delivered by the slow beat of sousaphone player Brian Cox and shortly joined in by Farrell on harmonica, you can just tell that this is not going to be your standard blues CD. And if you've ever listened to any of his discs in the past, you know that Richard Ray Farrell is capable of taking you on amazing journeys thatâ€™ll grab and hold your attention no matter what the delivery or style he chooses.
This is Pennsylvania blues man Farrell's tenth recording, following a trio of discs that were all collaborations with well-respected artists in Europe and the United States both. His last album saw a heavier and often Flamenco approach as he worked with a Spanish band that featured that country's revered guitarist Raimundo Amador; the disc before that offered Farrell teaming with Italian harmonica master Marco Pandolfi; and the one prior to that with American harper Steve Guyger in a superb country blues presentation. These are just a short list of the fantastic musicians that he has recorded with over the years and each of his albums are well worth hearing. The latest, I Sing The Blues Eclectic is no exception, fitting amongst his best easily.
There is something here for everybody. If you like blues with a shuffle, piano boogie, a little R&B delivery or maybe a country Delta-styled approach, Farrell has it all here for you. And besides his extraordianary guitar and vocal work, he has a witty songwriting ability that can have you smiling quite often with his lyrics. In "Steady Eatin' Woman" he's telling his girlfriend: "I love ya baby, but you're eatin' me out of house and home / You put your eyes on a pork chop, and you just can't leave it alone." In "Bad As You Wanna Be" he's telling her bluntly: "Little girl you think you fine, but you're just wasting my time. And he's telling you he's one cool dude in the tune "Leisure Man" as he states: " 'Cause I'm a leisure man, 100% signified and known throughout the land." The disc closes with a great little jug band number titled "Ride That Freedom Train," that is light-hearted and if it would've been released 40 years back certainly would have been a huge hit on the folk market.
If you're unfamiliar with Richard Ray Farrell, you just do not know what you're missing out on. Take a chance and pick up a copy of I Sing The Blues Eclectic. It's a great introduction to an artist that you'll most likely fall in love with and highly anticipate whatever he comes up with next. You just know it's going to be fun every time out. Give it a listen.
Slim Lively (2011)