VINYL REVIEW - "Jungle Blues" (C.W. STONEKING)
ALBUM TITLE: Jungle Blues ARTIST: C.W. Stoneking VINYL STATUS: New
As the plinking tones of a tenor banjo unfurl, there is no mistaking the journey that Aussie Hokum Blues larrikin C.W. Stoneking is about to take on his fourth album 'Jungle Blues' - released in 2008, the album is a dazzling exercise in country, blues, calypso and more, all the while with Stoneking's croaky croon and tall tales firmly at the core. When first hearing Stoneking's unmistakable vocals, you'd be forgiven for being slightly surprised to learn he is a white Australian in his 40s - the tales of hoodoo spells and strange expeditions coupled with his otherwordly drawl evokes an artist of another era, more at home on the bayous of New Orleans than grabbing coffee in trendy Melbourne suburbs.
Each track diversely shows-off its own charm while painting larger-than-life narratives, from the hypnotically swaying 'Jungle Lullaby' full of sleepy brass to the spirited syncopation on 'Brave Son of America', and it's this unique array that earned Stoneking the 2009 Aria Award for 'Best Blues and Roots Album'.
Armed with an uncanny ability to weave a story, Stoneking affects his tones at times with Caribbean and African-American accents (culminating in a spoken-word track in the form of 'The Greatest Liar'), but he occasionally breaks his otherworldy spell with modern revelations (e.g. his wife Kirsty raging against the gender machine on 'Housebound Blues', and the surprising confession that the title track 'Jungle Blues' was inspired by the riff from rapper 50 Cent's 'In Da Club').
The tales of sailing the Congo or mining for gold in Africa may not be entirely true, but 'Jungle Blues' transports you to exotic locations on a freight-train bound for the past - and it's a startlingly exciting showcase of Australian independent artist not afraid to be different. Check out the music video for the opening track 'Jungle Blues' with the man himself and his band The Primitive Horns below:
LABEL: King Hokum Records GENRE(S): Blues/Calypso Blues RELEASE DATE: October, 2008
BY TIANA SPETER