Brand New Eyes
Doug MacLeod is the consummate acoustic blues musician; a gifted songwriter, expressive vocalist and superb guitar player. He has been nominated for the Blues Music Award for Acoustic Artist of the Year by the Blues Foundation, the fourth year in a row he has been considered. On his latest CD, the sixteenth of his career, the full scope of his talent is on display throughout the program of original tunes that illuminate MacLeod's honest appraisals of the road he has traveled.
His intricate fingerpicking creates a jaunty rhythm on “Zu-Zu Woman”, a upbeat country blues that celebrates the affections of a sweet lover. “Something Dark is Walking” is a foreboding look at the concealed danger that lies all around us. But MacLeod also has hope for mankind, a sentiment expressed on “The Train of Change” with Denny Croy on string bass and Dave Kida on drums. The lone instrumental, “Somewhere South of Somewhere”, finds MacLeod spinning dazzling embellishments on a delicate melody. He switches to slide guitar on “I Rolled a Nickel”, his voice crying out in anguish over lost love.
“One Eyed Owl” is a highlight of MacLeod's live shows. The tune is based on conversations Doug had with George “Harmonica” Smith's wife Christine, mixing folk wisdom with a touch of the mystical realm that helps stay on the right path. Another stellar track is “Midnight in Memphis” with a heart-wrenching vocal from MacLeod that shakes you deep in your soul. MacLeod's wry humor is expressed on “The Nature of the Man” while the title track finds him picking out a sprightly rhythm as he encourages listeners to take a fresh look at the wonders of the world. Son Seals recorded a MacLeod tune on Bad Axe under the title “I Can Count on My Blues”. Here it is done under the original title, “Same Old Blues Song” with MacLeod delivering a riveting performance. The closing song, “Welcome in Your Home”, features a soaring vocal and a taut rhythm on the slide guitar as MacLeod acknowledges the healing power of love.
MacLeod uses his ability as a storyteller to enable us to briefly see the world through his eyes. His spellbinding performances will captivate you, just as he does on a live stage. And the superb sonic qualities of this recording are exactly what you would expect from a label that is part of the Reference Recordings group, a label with a long history of audiophile-quality releases. No questions here – this one comes highly recommended !!!!
Reviewed by Mark Thompson