Review - Start With the Soul

Artist: Alvin Youngblood Hart

Under the tutelage of Taj Mahal, Alvin Youngblood Hart has already turned in two strong albums that demonstrated his understanding of the country-blues form, but "Start With the Soul" leaves peers like Corey Harris and Guy Davis behind.

Being one that understands the importance of feel over form when it comes to the blues, producer Jim Dickinson (whose resume includes playing piano on the Stones' "Wild Horses" ) reacquaints Hart with the importance of the riff. Hart deserves a bit of credit for actually seeking out the Memphis-based sage, but this record's loose grit is all Dickinson.

As blues becomes just another sound to sell beer by, it is ironically heartwarming to hear it performed by someone who understands the music's plain meanness. The Stones in their prime were all about capturing that sense of despair and transcending it. Hart and Dickinson explore that eerie power found within the riff.

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