In North Carolina
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2007, Volume 14, #3
Written by John Metzger
Although Bob Margolin hit his stride as a solo artist in the ’90s with a trio of recordings for the fabled Alligator label, it was his seven-year stint with Muddy Waters’ final band for which he most often is remembered. On his latest effort In North Carolina, Margolin opted not to call upon his many friends and acquaintances for support, and instead, he recorded and performed everything on the outing himself. Considering the insularity of his process, the results understandably are mixed. At times — such as on his stirring renditions of Waters’ Tell Me Why and Lonely Man Blues as well as on his playful cover of Sam Theard’s You Rascal You — Margolin sounds relaxed and comfortable, and he beautifully parlays his extensive knowledge of the blues into a series of heartfelt, intimate moments that roll along effortlessly, as if he has nothing to prove. Elsewhere, however, his material stumbles along in a frustratingly uneven fashion, and the result is that he scuttles all of the momentum that he otherwise is able to obtain. Just Before Dawn, for example, conjures the dark and ominous presence of death, but by singing in a deep voice that clearly is out of his range, Margolin undercuts the song’s potency. Bring Me Your Blues and She and the Devil fare worse as even the music falters, and his take on The Band’s Tears of Rage is dreadfully lethargic. Although Margolin’s multifaceted explorations on guitar keep the endeavor from becoming a total loss, the album still ventures dangerously close to being nothing more than a mere vanity project. ˝
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box