Release Date: Sep 30, 2014
Record label: Bloodshot
Genre(s): Jazz, Country, Blues, Pop/Rock, New Orleans Jazz
Some blues and jazz artists enamored of vintage styles go out of their way to sound rough and raw in the belief it makes them seem more "authentic," as if great artists of the past regularly earned a following by sounding as if they could barely play. Luke Winslow-King, thankfully, believes in no such foolishness; on his fourth album, Everlasting Arms, he steps out like a gentleman of the blues, one who can play with force and feeling and pick with no small ability, but sounds just as much at home in the front parlor as at the juke joint on the other side of town. This speaks to Winslow-King's versatility, as he can play an easygoing jazz-based number like "I'm Your Levee Man" just as convincingly as he can tear into the rollicking Delta fury of "Swing That Thing" or the Latin-meets-New Orleans swing of "La Bega's Carousel.
Never content to operate solely within a given style, Luke Winslow-King swings all over the pre-war map on his latest, Everlasting Arms, rooting himself primarily in the sounds of the South, often the Deep South and Delta area where he now makes his home, far from his native Michigan. With the title track, Winslow-King reestablishes the basic sonic template employed on both his Bloodshot debut and earlier releases: gently shuffling rhythm section heavy on the one and three, unhurried guitar and vocal work that betray his music school background, and generally good-time vibe. Winslow-King excels in a certain pre-war style of pop music steeped in jazz and blues, channeling a very specific time and place and, when he strays slightly from this anachronistic formula, the results can be somewhat jarring.
Luke Winslow-King is a young man with an old soul. “Blues will make you do things you would never do,” he declares on “Home Blues,” one of 14 vintage-sounding songs on his latest endeavor, Everlasting Arms. If that is in fact the case, then coercion certainly works to his advantage. With a sound imbued with brassy flourishes and vampish barroom bluster, Winslow-King claims a classic pedigree honed from working on the road and lessons learned well.