There’s a new guitar hero on the horizon — Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. His first album, Kingfish, held at number one on the Billboard Blues Chart for 91 weeks and was nominated for a Grammy Award. Rolling Stone wrote, “Kingfish is one of the most exciting young guitarists in years, with a sound that encompasses B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix and Prince.” Guitar World declared him “the future of the blues.” All this for a twenty-two-year-old from Clarksdale, Mississippi, the cradle where so much of that music was born.

After a slew of awards and a hectic touring schedule, Ingram was kept close to home by the covid pandemic, where he used the time to co-write his next album, 662, with award-winning producer, songwriter and musician Tom Hambridge, the producer and drummer for this CD. This time out, with more experience under his belt, Kingfish looks inward to deliver a recording that’s more personal, more autobiographical than his last. In fact, 662 is the area code for the Clarksdale region, Ingram’s recognition of the culture that nurtured him.

This album is a tour de force of transcendent guitar and soul-drenched vocals, combined with Ingram’s songwriting skill. He rocks out in the title track, leaving no doubt of this young man’s musical maturity as the lyrics introduce us to his growing up in the Delta. Then just when we think the ride is over, he rips into a breathtaking, red-hot guitar solo. He reins in the pace but maintains the voltage for “She Calls Me Kingfish,” another self-portrayal dispatched with beefy vocals and searing guitar that swelter like the Mississippi heat. “Long Distance Woman” struts in with a heavy rhythm punctuated with blazing guitar solos.

Kingfish lingers awhile as he flaunts his jazz artistry in “Another Life Goes By,” his introspective take on an environment of neglect and violence. He then resumes a full-on onslaught with the hard-driving “Not Gonna Lie,” professing his responsibility for perpetuating the blues, accentuating it with a savage, distorted-guitar solo. “Too Young to Remember” is a funked-up number channeling into the old-time blues scene of moonshine and juke joints, paying tribute to the older generations of blues artists he emulates.

Kingfish strikes a melancholy tone with exquisite acoustic guitar and sorrow-laced vocals in the ethereal “You’re Already Gone.” “My Bad” erupts with wailing guitar, as he laments past thoughtlessness. With a nod to Booker T. & the MGs, Joe Simon and Sam Cooke, accompanied by horns, “That’s All It Takes” drips with soul through Ingram’s luminous guitar and heartrending voice. That’s contrasted with the following “I Got to See You,” a peppy jive number that grandstands his rock ’n’ roll chops.

Kingfish transitions to a gorgeous, slow-simmering blues with “Your Time Is Gonna Come,” fueled with ravishing guitar and embellished by Marty Sammon’s fine piano backing. “That’s What You Do” gets personal again as Ingram reflects on his travails as a devoted blues musician. In “Something in the Dirt,” he ponders the legacy of the music that germinates in the Delta earth, as he stands on the shoulders of those greats who came before him. His guitar is incandescent here as he trades solos with Sammon’s tasteful piano. 662 concludes with a bonus track, “Rock & Roll,” an impassioned eulogy to his mother, Princess Latrell “Pride” Ingram, who passed away in late 2019. Through his voice and instrument, Kingfish eloquently expresses gratitude to the person who sacrificed for his future. It’s a profound tribute, concluding with one perfect, elegant note on his guitar.

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram made a pledge to his mentor Buddy Guy to keep the blues alive, and he masterfully demonstrates he’s up to the task. 662 is an album not to be missed. (Sandra B. Tooze)

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