There are certain things you expect from a good blues record: a rhythmic string section, a deep rich graveled voice, and a mood and tone that takes you away from your problems and transports you to another world, but those are just superfluous details to well-crafted songs.
Bluestones, the third release form Daddy Mack Blues Band on the Inside Sounds label, has all of that. The players on the album are "Daddy" Mack Orr (guitar and vocals), James Bonner (guitar), Harold Bonner (bass), and William Faulkner (drums). Mack and the Bonner brothers hail from Memphis, and what they deliver is what you would expect. Nothing fancy, just plain and simple Memphis blues played and sung with heart and soul.
You have to look no further than the instrumental track, "Slim Jenkin's Joint," to get a sense of just how talented the players are. The ability to convey emotion simply by the way the guitar is strummed and the bass and drum complement each other isn't easy, but it is a skill that is held in abundance by these musicians. Orr penned the second instrumental, "Stone Blues," and it is one of the more upbeat tracks. It not only shows off his chops as a player — there are some amazing riffs — but also as a composer. ("Stone Blues" is one of four songs composed by Orr.)
Included as a bonus on Bluestones is a video clip taken from the upcoming documentary about Mack Orr and the Daddy Mack Blues Band. The clip is called Savin' My Love: An Anatomy of a Song. It is a sneak peak at the recording process and serves as a nice visual, allowing you too see all members of the band sing and play with the emotion required for such a heartfelt final product. I had hoped the clip would include a bit of an interview or some commentary, but alas it only ends with Orr saying something to the effect of he had to hold back a little bit because it was a love song.
The oddest track is the album closer, "Feliz Navidad." Aside from including a holiday song on a non-holiday album, the rendition is just… well, odd. It's definitely got a slow blues feel, that keeps it in line with the overall tone of the album, but it's unpredicted in the lineup and a very unexpected rendition of such a classic song. But unpredicted and unexpected doesn't translate to bad, just a sort of misfit track.
"Feliz Navidad," may be a lukewarm closer but there really isn't a bad track on Bluestones. What Daddy Mack's Blues Band has delivered is a solid collection of tunes, in the old Memphis blues style that will have you tapping your feet and humming along. Standout tracks include, "Plain Man," "Savin' My Love," "A Real Good One," and "Stone Blue."
Audio streams to five tracks from the Bluestones CD can be found at Daddy Mack's page of the supersonic website.