Bluesman extraordinaire Tas Cru released his latest album on June 1. It’s called Memphis Song, and it features the talents of Victor Wainwright on piano and Pat Harrington on slide guitar.
Based in upstate New York, Cru sometimes performs solo acoustic shows, while at other times he is backed by a full band of seven members. But whatever the format, his shows are just about right, always. His new album follows up on the success of You Keep the Money, released in 2014, and Simmered & Stewed, which was nominated for the 2018 Blues Music Award.
Memphis Song comprises 12 tracks, opening with the rambling, powerful “Heal My Soul.” It rides a surfacing piano, delicious harmonica, and marvelous vocal harmonies. The title track features an oozing blues melody and a snarling harmonica. Cru’s rasping affluent voice growls and grumbles with wicked flavors.
Other notable tracks include “Fool for the Blues,” a potent bluesy rocker with crunching drums and a scintillating guitar, along with a quavering organ that makes the music sizzle as if fried in deep fat. One of my personal favorites is “Daddy Didn’t Give You Much.” This song emits smooth, creamy blues flavored with doses of soul punctuated by fragrant licks on slide guitar.
“Queen of Hearts” reminds me of B.B. King. The drawling guitar infuses the tune with “Is that all there is?” poignancy, as Cru’s voice exposes his pain and regret.
All the songs on Memphis Song simmer and seethe with intense, dark Memphis blues, bringing up recollections of ZZ Top, Johnny Winters, and Muddy Waters. It is lip-smacking blues, the kind that seeps and leaches into your bones. There’s a smoldering quality to it, pensive and full of titanic emotions ready to burst forth.
Memphis Song is excellent, especially for blues lovers. There’s nothing passive about Cru’s blues. His blues radiate from the bowels of the abyss, striking right at the heart.