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Music Review: Lucky Peterson – You Can Always Turn Around

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Lucky Peterson is a contemporary blues artist whose roots are grounded in the Southern Delta of the United States. He was discovered by legendary bluesman Willie Dixon at the age of five while he was performing in his father’s nightclub. That led to appearances onThe Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show before the age of six. In 1969 he released an album titled 5 Year Old Lucky Peterson, and despite backing such artists as Etta James, Little Milton, and Bobby “Blue” Bland,” he mostly disappeared from the spotlight for over a decade. He has now returned with his eleventh studio release since 1985.

You Can Always Turn Around features a trio of excellent supporting musicians, including guitarist Larry Campbell, bassist Scott Petito, and drummer Gary Burke.

Lucky’s new album is a combination of styles. There is the raw traditional blues that harks back to the Mississippi Delta of the early twentieth century, some rhythm & blues based tracks, and what can best be described as smooth, modern-day blues.

This is his first proper studio album in seven years and the first since he finished a stint in rehab. These facts contributed to both the album title and the selection of material which deal with his struggles and ultimate salvation.

Personally I prefer his excursions which explore some old classics. Robert Johnson’s “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom,” Blind William McTell’s “Statesboro Blues,” and Rev. Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” all feature his unique, excellent guitar work which remains true to the originals.

There are a number of other songs of note as well. His cover of Lucinda Williams’ “Atonement” may seem like an odd choice, but it fits the theme of the album well and at six and a half minutes allows him to stretch out a bit. His version of the sixties gospel/civil rights tune “I Wish I Knew How It Would Be To Be Free” is passionate and effective. The album comes to a fitting conclusion with an interpretation of Curtis Mayfield’s “Think.”

Lucky Peterson has assembled an excellent if somewhat eclectic comeback album. At times I can’t help but think he would been better served by sticking with one style to create a better overall flow, but the individual parts are all well done. You Can Always Turn Around is a fine addition to any modern day blues collection.

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