Guest Reviewer: Brad Wheeler, music writer for the Globe and Mail

Danny Brooks & Lil Miss Debi Are You Ready? The Mississippi Sessions AVA Entertainment

Danny Brooks opens up his new record the same way Jack de Keyzer does, with a song called Are You Ready. Brooks’ doesn’t end in a question mark. Must be rhetorical. With road gravel in his epiglottis and promise in his heart, Brooks sings “Are you ready to have a good time of-down home Southern soul?” Sure, why not.
As the album title indicates, the tracks – 20 of them in all – were recorded in Mississippi, outside Jackson. Brooks and Lil Miss Debi (no relation to Miss Emily) identify as Texanadians. One imagines that gets them into all sorts of trouble when they have have to deal with immigration officials at the border.
If you haven’t guessed by now, this is a Southern record. We have swamp Americana, harmonica-heavy Delta blues, Alabama riff rock and an album-ending New Orleans dirge that gets Tom Waits’s attention.
I like the warmth of Jamaica Sun – like a Rasta Bob Seger. Less successful is a cover of John Prine’s Angel from Montgomery. Let’s just say Bonnie Raitt won’t feel threatened by Lil Miss Debi’s voice.
As always with Brooks, there’s a spirituality at work, with road-weary songs about perseverance and journeys travelled: One More MileClimb That Mountain and the slide-driven No Easy Way Out (with a snippet of the spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child).
It’s a road record mostly. As in load up the Winnebago, mother, we’re ready.