The deadline to finalize my ballot for the 2010 Blues Music Awards is fast approaching and I still have a staggering amount of music to consider. I'm down to the final month and I still haven't come close to hearing all of it, to say nothing of actively listening to it, so I'm going to multi-task. For the next month, you should count on getting a heavy dose of blues in your Verse Chorus Verse. We'll be talking about songs from the records and artists who are nominated and we'll begin with a song nominated for Song Of The Year from an album nominated for Album of the Year.
The most distinctive characteristics of "I'm Tide" are the Prince-like vocal (think Sign O' The Times-era Prince) and the searing lead guitar of Joe Louis Walker. He lays down some mean licks, but it's the tone he generates that provides most of the heat to those leads. His laconic vocal is pleasant and inviting, not trying to impress or oppress listeners with how blue he can sound.
"I'm Tide" is also set apart by having a rhythmic structure that isn't the skeletal remains of a blues riff that has been used by every would-be bluesman in every dive bar across the known universe. Walker draws from contemporary and traditional blues elements as well as some sweet blasts of gospel organ. The clever word play — this is a song about fatigue rather than my favorite college football team or a popular brand of laundry detergent — gives a fresh coat of paint to lyrical themes that have been worn to death not only in the blues but also pop music as a whole.
It's too early in the series and the process to announce my vote. Just as in sports you can't win a game in the first quarter, but you can lose one. Joe Louis Walker hasn't cinched my vote for song or album of the year, but he's put himself in contention.