February 20, 2024

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CD review: Doug MacLeod – Raw Blues 1 – 2023: Video, CD cover and Buy link

Doug MacLeod is an international touring artist and was named Acoustic Artist of the Year in 2020 and nominated again in 2023 by Blues Music Awards.

His 2018 Break the Chain was awarded Acoustic Album of the Year. Doug overcame a crippling stutter by turning to music. MacLeod’s playing landed him sideman gigs with George ‘Harmonica’ Smith, Big Joe Turner, Pee Wee Crayton, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson, Lowell Fulson, and Big Mama Thornton. MacLeod’s songs have been featured in many TV movies and the hit show In the Heat of the Night. August Wilson requested his soulful slide guitar playing in the Los Angeles opening of Gem of the Ocean.

He is one of the four featured artists in the movie Resonate: A Guitar Story, the feature documentary on the making of National Guitars. Over 30 years and 22 studio albums, MacLeod has consistently earned rave reviews with his songs being covered by many artists including Albert King, Albert Collins, Joe Louis Walker, and Eva Cassidy.

Correct in principle, but to be able to place the description, you must be somewhat familiar with MacLeod’s music. And that’s easy, because he has almost twenty albums to his name. Striking in that list is the album ‘The Utrecht Sessions’.

Add to this that he regularly performs in the Europe and the conclusion is justified that he may not be known to ‘the general public’, but in all likelihood he is known to the – much smaller – blues audience. Just to be sure, a few quotes from the biography on AllMusic, written by Mark Deming.

‘Blues artist Doug MacLeod earned an international reputation and won multiple awards for his tough, fleet-fingered guitar playing…and fluid bottleneck solos,…as well as his impassioned and soulful vocal style. MacLeod most often performs on acoustic guitar, but he’s also well-versed in electric styles … and magazine columnist.

When MacLeod was in his teens, he became a frequent visitor to St. Louis’ blues clubs, and he learned from veteran artists like Albert King, Little Milton, and Ike & Tina Turner.

…Stationed in the navy in Norfolk, Virginia, he spent his off-base hours playing in the local blues venues, developing a unique and rhythmic country blues acoustic guitar style often abetted with intricate bottleneck slide runs, and a soulful and powerfully immediate vocal style .

From 1984 onwards, MacLeod has been making albums, most of them acoustic, but sometimes also with a band.

‘2022’s A Soul to Claim was named one of the best albums of the year by the influential jazz magazine Downbeat, and in March 2023, he released the first in a series of EPs, ‘Raw Blues 1′, that captured him performing solo acoustic live in the studio, with no edits or overdubs.’

And that is what the EP ‘Raw Blues 1’ is: blues without frills, stripped of all frills: just one man and one guitar. This makes ‘Raw Blues 1’ not very suitable as music for the car and even less as background music.

In addition to being a gifted guitarist (lots of slide, lots of resonator), MacLeod is also a man with a beautiful voice, often with a narrative singing style, laced with dry humor. If you have the peace and patience to listen intently to MacLeod at home, you have a nice private concert at your disposal.

Raw Blues 1 is solo acoustic blues at its best. MacLeod’s voice is warmth and impassioned while his guitar playing is a thing of rare beauty, combining technical prowess with emotional depth. His command of dynamics on tracks like “Hey Bartender” or the Delta blues of “What’s Been Heard (Maybe Ain’t Been Said)” draws the listener in and refuses to let them go. His jaunty finger-picking on the instrumental “Walking With Mr. Smith” recalls the dexterity of Robert Lockwood Jr., while his ferocious slide guitar work drives tracks like “Unmarked Road”

The only disappointing thing about Raw Blues 1 is that it is so short, with the seven self-written songs lasting just over half an hour. But there isn’t a wasted note in that time. Let’s hope that a Raw Blues 2 is in the pipeline. In the meantime, this is a really enjoyable release from one of the masters.

It was alot of fun doing it. Just sitting down in front of the mics and playing. Andreas Werner the producer just said, ‘Sit and play what ever comes, like you on your porch.’ We did. Andreas is a pleasure to work with. There will be a Raw Blues 2 coming down the line and me and Andreas are working on a new album that we’ll be recording sometime early next year. You must be talking about ‘A Soul To Claim’ because Raw Blues 1 is just me. Is that right? I didn’t pick the musicians. Jim Gaines the producer did. And Jim knew just what my music needed. Steve Potts, Dave Smith, Rick Steff … damn good musicians! – an interview with me said Doug MacLeod.

We recommend that you definitely buy this CD and enjoy it

I’m Gone
What’s Been Heard (Maybe Ain’t Been Said)
Plaquemine
Children Like You
Unmarked Road
Hey Bartender
Walking with Mr. Smith

Buy from here – New CD 2023

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