It’s been too long between albums for Chicago-based, Mississippi-born Fruteland Jackson but he has been busy. His Blues in the Schools work has reached over one million students, for which he received a prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation. He plays acoustic country blues and Good as Your Last Dollar opens with a tribute to a famous predecessor in Johnny Shines. “Two Steps to Hell” shows why Shines was a longtime travelling partner of Robert Johnson and this performance finds Jackson backed wonderfully by Jack de Keyzer on acoustic slide and Alec Fraser on bass, continuing Electro-Fi’s policy of recording here with our top-flight musicians. As Electro-Fi albums perennially get recognized in awards shows and best of lists, this is one policy that should stay in place. “When Death Comes Creepin’ In” gets a larger ensemble, with Harrison Kennedy joining in on a duet of this traditional gospel favourite. Julian Fauth’s piano is a treat and Harrison plays harmonica as well. The title song is an excellent original in which Fruteland laments the demise of a time when things could be settled with a handshake, a song that came out of his observations of the effects of the Great Recession on the poor. There’s some lovely fingerpicking from Jack. Harrison returns on vocals and harmonica for a remarkable version of “Careless Love”. For Fruteland, this was not just a traditional song but a case study of why these songs stay around – his first love was a careless one, just as his mother said it would be. Fruteland is on mandolin, with Jack and Julian. It’s a theme he returns to in Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain”. He wanted to sing about his parents and wrote “All the Dad I Had” as a slow blues, it seems his Dad was not much of a Dad at all. “How’s It Going?” is the kind of question you don’t really expect an answer to but Fruteland supplies a talking blues over Julian’s piano detailing how desperate a blues life can be. Johnny Nicholas’ “Peace in Hell” finds both Fruteland and Jack on slide as he hopes there is peace there if nowhere else. A bonus track is a most requested song from his 2003 album of the same name, “Blues 2.0”. Fruteland was the first artist signed to Electro-Fi Records in 1999 and this is a most welcome addition. You’ll see from his web site, www.fruteland.com, that he has storytelling CDs available as well but Electro-Fi is his home for blues.

June 2019 - Sunday Wilde & the 1 eyed jacks
June 2019 - Paul DesLauriers Band