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Earnest “Guitar” Roy – Going Down To Clarksdale

JunBug Discords

8 tracks – 36.36 minutes

Clarksdale native and second generation bluesman Earnest “Guitar” Roy started early, aged 8, in his father’s band which at one time included Big Jack Johnson. He played drums on Johnson’s first album “The Oilman” and also played drums and guitar on Frank Frost’s “Midnight Prowler” album for Earwig. He then played in Albert King’s band until Albert’s death. However, little has been heard from him for some time, this CD being his first since 2005. This CD was recorded summer 2011 in Water Valley Mississippi and it appears that Earnest played everything on the album himself as the CD states that “All songs written, arranged and produced by Earnest Roy”.

Opener “Hard-Headed Woman” is a fast-paced shuffle with strong guitar lines. The title tune name checks some of Earnest’s influences in a song that talks about returning to the home of the juke joints. “Evaline” is one of those songs about how the guy is badly treated by his woman but has a rather plodding rhythm. The acoustic guitar intro to “A Letter To My Sweetheart” provides a touch of country but the gentler pace does rather expose Earnest’s weakness as a vocalist and the song is too long but the electric guitar overdub is a positive.

“How Long” is a jauntier piece with some more nice guitar. “I Wanna Know What My Little Girl’s Been Doin’” provides something of a down-home/back porch approach. Unfortunately it is also the longest cut on the album and, for me, outstays its welcome. “Somebody’s Got To Give” has a lot of wah-wah and a rather dull spoken part; “Too Many Women” closes the CD with Earnest solo, just his acoustic guitar and a stomp board.

Earnest has clearly put such a lot into it. He has a serviceable voice and plays decent guitar throughout the album. The overall sound is rather ‘muddy’ and the songs lack interest or distinction. It is hard to see how this CD will make a mark against many others.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK.  He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.

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