Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sherman Robertson - I'm the Man - 1994.

No one will accuse Sherman Robertson of insisting on modest titles every time he records an album. I'm the Man, in fact, is the sort of confident, self-assured title one would expect from a rap artist -- some might even call it cocky. But then, Robertson has good reason to be confident; I'm the Man is a fine album of electric blues and bluesy soul that underscores the singer/guitarist's Houston, TX, upbringing. Though Robertson has also lived in Louisiana (where he was born) and has backed zydeco heavyweights like Clifton Chenier and Terrance Simien, this 1993 date sounds a lot more Texas than Louisiana. I'm the Man doesn't get into Louisiana-style swamp blues -- although Robertson is quite capable of embracing it -- and the comparisons that come to mind when this CD is playing include Albert Collins, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Johnny "Guitar" Watson (all of whom were masters of Texas blues). "The lone star" influences shine through whether Robertson is playing straight-ahead blues on "Make It Rain," "Linda Lou," and "Special Kind of Loving," or providing bluesy soul on "Am I Losing You?" and "Out of Sight, Out of Mind." Meanwhile, Robertson favors a mildly jazzy approach on the exuberant "Vacating the Blues," which has the sort of organ/saxophone energy that would not have been out of place at a Jimmy Witherspoon session. Is Robertson a blues purist? Definitely not. Robertson is no more a blues purist than Robert Cray, and he isn't the sort of artist who insists that everything he records has to have 12 bars. But he does insist on bringing the feeling of the blues to everything he does, and that mindset proves valuable throughout this excellent CD.

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