Everyone knows what Taj Mahal brings to the table. There won’t be many surprises but you still know it will be quality. One of the most experienced bluesmen in history keeps on track with his 47th album Labor of Love. This album is a compilation of sorts, featuring some of his well know material that has never been released, all of the material is officially previously unreleased however. The record is littered with guests from the Music Maker Relief Foundation making this a collaborative yet still stripped down release.
This record finds Mahal having lots of fun, sounding surprisingly spry and playful. On songs like “Fishin’ Blues” his inflections are light and bouncy, setting a pace for the song possibly just faster than he can comfortably keep up with. On “Hambone” with the help of John Dee Holeman he works his way through the hambone driven song cracking jokes and never taking the silly song too seriously (see his spelling out “B-U-T-T” leaving out the last “T” to make the song flow better.) It not all fun and games though, on his cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s “My Creole Belle” hits a sincere note and delivers a quite nice love song. His vocal performance on the song rises above the rest of the tracks here and stands out. On “Spike Driver’s Blues” he toys with a little he-said, she-said with a memorable chorus. There’s a lot of fun and good songs here, no surprise but Taj is still delivering quality music.
Key Tracks: “Spike Driver’s Blues” “Fishin’ Blues” “Hambone”