In some ways, Ken Whiteley’s new album is not a surprise in that it contains his usual blend of personal, political and spiritual songs. He also continues to bring along some remarkable guests to help out. He has however come up with some brilliant new songs and he’s singing very well indeed. He’s chosen this time as well to play a great deal of slide guitar. “Lay My Burden by The River” brings back memories of a trip to the Himalayas over some lovely fingerpicking and son Ben Whiteley’s string bass. The title song is a lovely ballad to his wife Ellen. Jane Lewis & Eve Goldberg provide harmony vocals and Ken adds mandolin. Ken met blues mandolin player Yank Rachell at Mariposa. At this late stage in his career, Yank told Ken he no longer tuned his mandolin in the standard way but to how he felt that day, the uplifting “Tune Me Up” is the result of that memory. Ken is on resophonic guitar & mandolin with the Fabulous Levy Sisters. An ambitious, if slightly older, song features the large band Ken brought to the Blues Summit Showcase a couple of years ago. “I Hear the Wind” is dedicated to refugees around the world. It was a showstopper then and it still is. “Stephen’s Last Game” is the heartbreaking tale of a mother who has to tell her son that they are about to be deported from their home in Iowa, thanks to the harsh new immigration laws there. Two traditional gospel tunes feature the great lap steel player Nikki D. Brown & her sisters who were Ken’s guests at his gospel brunch at Hugh’s Room last year. “You Better Mind” gets some new lyrics from Ken and “King’s Highway” dates back to the Original Sloth Band days – both wonderful new performances. He was planning on touring to support this new album but that’s not going to happen for a while. Find out when at www.kenwhiteley.com. 

April 2020 - Sandra Bouza
April 2020 - Crystal Shawanda