Buddy Guy‘s style of rocking blues has earned him a reputation as one of the best guitar players of our time. His newest release, Born To Play Guitar carries on his reputation with piercing riffs and soulful vocals that are as feverish and revealing as ever.
Buddy opens the record admitting his past and setting the stage for the rest of the record. The beginning of “Born To Play Guitar” sets the stage for the record by making it feel like you’re casually sitting down with him on the corner and catching up on his past. He pulls you in with his quivering voice, softly singing “I was born in Louisiana and at the age of two, my momma told my poppa how her little boy has got the blues, I grew up real fast, and I’ve traveled very far, one damn thing for sure: I was born to play the guitar.” The track slowly evolves with his relaxed riffing and quaint piano, later unwinding with a slow yet captivating solo. “Born To Play” relies heavily on Buddy’s talent for playing assertive riffs alongside spirited lyrics. While the entire album revolves around those two man talents of his, Buddy and his friends do a good job of conveying varied moods and themes throughout. ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons comes in on “Wear You Out” to make it one of the album’s hardest rocking hits, with plentiful distorted electric guitar riffs and Gibbon’s deep, southern voice. Other tracks, notably “Too Late,” which features Kim Wilson on Harmonica, and “(Baby) You Got What It Takes” which features vocals from Joss Stone, are more on the danceable side with upbeat, steady rhythms and rousing vocals.
The standout tracks on Born To Play Guitar are when Buddy takes his feelings to their extremes. “Whiskey, Beer & Wine” is drenched in blues to the point where it feels grungy, and Buddy hollers about his affinity for taking care of problems the fun way, “Hardwood bar, rickety stools, cigarette machine, selling Camels and Kools / You can solve your problems one drink at a time, you can fix anything over whiskey, beer, and wine!” His easygoing attitude makes you wonder how he could have problems at all, but some other tracks divulge into unfavorable confines. Buddy touches on societal and political ills on “Crazy World” and he delves into a much more personal relationship on “Come Back Muddy.” Somber piano and playful acoustic guitar make up the instrumentals, while Buddy fondly remembers his good friend and bandmate Muddy Waters. Guy delivers lines like “come back Muddy, let’s make up some of that good old nasty noise,” but the sentiment goes beyond words and is more wholly felt in the thoughtful guitar riffs and swaying melodies.
Buddy Guy is a musician that has put his heart and soul into his music since day one, so it is not surprising that his latest effort stirs up the same type of lively feeling. His guitar playing is still bluesy and impassioned, while his songwriting remains emotionally-driven by his personal experiences. His words are meaningful, but his guitar playing fortifies his message with such a force that you don’t have to take his word for it when he sings “I got blues traveling through my veins.” You can hear it for yourself.
Pick up a copy of Born To Play Guitar here. Buddy Guy doesn’t have plans to come through Philly on this tour, but if you’re itching for his live show you can catch him at The State Theatre in New Brunswick on September 30th (tickets), or The Grand Opera House in Wilmington on October 2nd (tickets). Find all of his tour dates here.
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