Colin Linden’s first studio album in six years features some his finest writing. That he’s found time to write anything, let alone an album this good when his list of current projects is longer than my column is as good a mark of his genius as there can be.

To set these songs in the best possible light, we have a beautifully minimal production: one guitar (or mandolin or ukelele), light backing keyboard and bass & drums played by his 25-year accomplices, John Dymond and Gary Craig. He says in the press release that he’s always considered himself a blues player foremost and he definitely proves that here.

“Knob & Tube” is a delightful tune comparing his love relationship to various aspects of electric current. “The Hurt” is much more serious, demanding that an end to facile apologies when only something sincere could begin to remove the pain. Etta James and Cassius Clay figure in the verses.

Charlie Musselwhite’s prominent harp work here is a stroke of genius. “Rich In Love” has some more subdued harp from Charlie, adding to the atmospheric sound of a song about someone who’s rich in love but little else. “And Then You Begin (to start again)” is a marvellous country blues, just Linden and some light organ as he sings of picking yourself up and moving on. “No More Cheap Wine” is as close to a rocker as he gets here – a band track about leaving the party life behind, with some beautiful slide work.

“Paybacks Are Hell” is to be taken literally: you don’t get to heaven dealing in paybacks. With such wonderful singing and songwriting, it’s almost a crime that he spends so much of his time as a hired session man and/or producer, but his work there contributes so much it really becomes a tough call – long may he last! The official release date is September 25 and it will be available for streaming at the usual places.