Legendary bluesman’s new set sits alongside Cash’s American Recordings as autumnal landmark“Times have changed so much, music has changed so much, but those old records still sound pretty good,” said B.B. King recently, referring to the blues standards—including Howlin’ Wolf’s “How Many More Years,” Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” and John Lee Hooker’s “Blues Before Sunrise”—that he revisits on his captivating new album One Kind Favor. Elegiac by intent, the record is awash in poignancy, radiating from the deeply felt guitar and vocal performances of the 83-year-old King and his supporting band (anchored by drummer Jim Keltner, bassist Nathan East and pianist Dr.
It's been so long since B.B. King stepped outside of his comfort zone that One Kind Favor comes as a bit of a shock. Unlike so many albums he's cut in the wake of the crossover success of The Thrill Is Gone way back in 1970, the sound is stripped-back, not splashy, there is not a reliance on guest stars, and the repertoire is pure blues -- and these are all songs that he's never recorded before, including three tunes by his longtime idol Lonnie Johnson.