By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker
Some 17 years down the road, elements of the music from the North Mississippi hills country has evolved. It’s been copied, been innovated, been blended, and in some cases been improved upon, like in this album by five kids from Oklahoma City, The Rounders. The Rounders are singer Brian Whitten, guitarists Ryan Taylor and Michael Stone, percussionist Stu Williamson and bassist Dave Spindle.
The indigenous music that comes from the hills of North Mississippi was introduced to the Blues audience at large right after 1990 by Robert Palmer’s book and subsequent film of the same name, Deep Blues. The emergence of the Fat Possum Records label then exposed and brought those artists (like R.L. Burnside and Junior kimbrough) to us on CD. One of their Various Artists’ CDs was titled, Not the Same Old Blues Crap, and indeed, the music was different from what most Blues fans were accustomed. The music from the North Mississippi hills has been described as unique rural music that is electric, raw, stripped-down, polyrhythmic, droning, and powerful blues.
Wish I Had You combines hills country and urban Blues, roots-based indie Rock, and traditional and alt Country into an exciting sound that paradoxically sounds familiar and fresh simultaneously. In 2000, a band of high-school dreamers dedicated their efforts to become a uniquely true, blues-based Rock band, The Rounders. The boys avoided the pitfall of being another Texas Blues rock band modeled after Stevie Ray Vaughan, and went after a sound filled with reverence for Hills drone, Delta, and Chicago Blues styles. Six years into a career filled with praise from both the indie-rock press and the blues world, The Rounders follow up with their first release for Blind Pig Records, Wish I Had You.
All 13 songs are originals (most by Ryan Taylor), and there is enough variety on the CD to please. Don’t like a song? Just go to the next one. Truly a highlight of the CD is the blending of baritone vocals with guitar tones often with Whitten singing each word in the same note as played simultaneously on guitar like in the opening song, “God Knows I'm Tryin’” and “When It’s Bad.”
Fans of the North Mississippi Allstars will enjoy the 4th track, “You Know Better Than That.” Play “Guess the Band” with a friend by playing the first 20 seconds. The clear-as-a-bell twin guitar harmony leads will have them guessing NMA or Allman Brothers.
For harmonica laced blues, guest Dustin Arbuckle wails on “Wait For Me” while “Through No Fault of My Own” is a slow cooker that often boils over with harp and welling guitars. Then for a change of pace, try a little swing above a railroad rhythm on “Oh, My Dear Mind.”
Variety, yes, but, the songs fit well together. No matter if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool blues purist or a young musical adventurer; this album kills both.
To listen to some samples or purchase this CD Now CLICK HERE