Several years ago I read an article interviewing Robert Cray. In it he was asked about which up and coming blues artists he was listening to and he mentioned Eric Bibb and Corey Harris. Being a fan of Mr. Cray, I naturally had to check out these aspiring artists to see what the fuss was about. After giving both of these dudes a good listen I am happy to report that Robert's great tastes extend beyond his guitar licks. I'll profile Bibb later but for now Corey Harris gets a song spotlighted today.
Corey is a genuine student of the early blues; Paul Pearson from AMG puts it best when he states that Harris "never comes off as a dilettante, but rather a devoted auteur." His 1995 debut album Between Midnight and Day is a showcase for his mastery of the music of country blues icons like Charley Patton, Bukka White and Sleepy John Estes. But from there, Harris has showed off a startlingly diverse grasp of all kinds of roots music, from folk to Caribbean to creole. The heir to Taj Mahal? Why yes, you could say so. And true to the old form, Corey's weapons of choice are the National Steel Guitar and the lap steel guitar. Furthermore, his voice is so malleable, he can change it in pitch and phrasing to perfectly match the tune. You'd swear there's a different vocalist for each song.
It's this diversity that makes Harris' third release, 1999's Greens From The Garden such a joy to listen to. In keeping with the culinary theme, it's really a spicy, traditional gumbo cooked in a contemporary pot. You know it wasn't recorded that long ago, but it harkens back decades nonetheless.