J Edwards - LuLu’s House
Oh s**t!!! I threw this disc into my player without looking at the liner notes. From the cover shot of J Edwards sitting with an acoustic guitar, I was thinking this was going to be a run-of-the-mill reworking of country blues. My jaw dropped when I heard driving electric blues music supporting a gravelly, world weary voice. J Edwards sounds like the second coming of the underrated Brit R&B belter Frankie Miller. “You Said You Loved Me” really drives the Miller comparison home, as his drawn-out rasp is complimented by scorching guitar. Throughout the recording the musicians’ solos contribute to the overall strength of the songs, rather than showboating. What follows is a blues-R&B-Memphis stew worthy of the best seasoned musicians.
“New Shoes” is an addictive and positive new attitude tune…”I got a new coat and it’s a fancy coat and I’m leaving as I’m puttin’ it on”…He can’t wait to get out the door. Food is used as a metaphor for sex in the funky, sax driven “Supper’s Waiting”. When Edwards reins in his vocals a bit the resemblance owes more to Bob Seger, especially on the R&B-inflected rock of “Taste”, which also features a Seger-like lyrical hook. Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” riff is used to good effect on “Still The King”. Larry Van Loon and Kenne Cramer supply the honky-tonk piano and slide guitar respectively, that propel the groove of the self-explanatory “Come On In The Bedroom”. Cramer once again shows off his skills with a slow-burning guitar intro on “I Got A Woman”. “Eatin’ At Lulu’s” closes out this introduction to an extraordinary talent that somehow got under my blues radar, with the accompaniment of only tuba, acoustic guitar and what appears to be a snare drum. It’s an ode to a fine southern cook who also operates a cat house. The narrator seems to be a supplier of good skills to Lulu, as he pays 65 cents for a meal while the regulars pay 3 dollars.
As soon as J Edwards becomes known to a larger audience, I can see nothing stopping him from international recognition. The music on display here is on a par of the greats who had to struggle to reach stardom, not the pre-packaged drivel that seems to be the norm in our present superficial times. The work and hard knocks show in every word and riff. This is the stuff of tunesmith’s, while retaining a natural feel. For a guy from Columbia, South Carolina he has that grit that originates from Chicago and is filtered through British blues sensibilities.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony is from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at http://bluesdog61.multiply.com