Back in the Delta

Give Me a Reason (Independent)
One Shot Johnny

By Larry Alexander

I just got back from Greenwood, Miss. It was sort of a strange venture, like going back in time 50 years. The town was great and dripped with soul. I walked down the streets, which offered a contrast of good and bad. Life was slow, life obeyed the shuffle and passion ruled. I stayed in the Alluvian hotel; by coincidence, B.B. King stayed there that night and I just felt the blues. Greenwood is the blues. The blues is life.

I came back home to Louisville and put on One Shot Johnny's new disc, Give Me a Reason, and felt like I was back in the Mississippi Delta. You pretty much have to have been to Memphis or the Delta to really appreciate the soul of One Shot. The words speak to life and the strings speak to the mood of life. "Someone, Somewhere" is my favorite. What a delicious blend of heartfelt lyrics and guitar from hell. "Watching Old Memories Burn" makes me want to just sway to the mood: "Pour me a drink and watch the old memories burn." It's about a love that was once on fire but was lost. "Sometimes" just rocks as an interesting, almost rock-country hybrid. "Drunkard's Blues" starts like Clapton and just keeps building; you gotta have a hardcore drinking song on a blues album and this cut is a winner.

This album as a whole is elegant in its message, reverberating with solid musicianship, including the outstanding rhythm section of Joe Shirley (bass, vocals) and Jeremiah Kelly (drums, vocals). The album needs the lyrics - all of which apparently were written by guitarist/vocalist Randy Colvin - printed on the insert; the listener really needs to get the input of the words to appreciate the gestalt.

There is something else that needs to be pointed out: If you like a live sound, you will like this. If you like the sophistication of a great studio mix, you might be disappointed. The sound is harsh and dirty - but harsh and dirty is the blues. I like the sound. I like the message. I especially like that it took me back south where you can feel the blues in the air.