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Mighty Sam McClain/Knut Reiersrud – One Drop Is Plenty

Valley Entertainment 2011

11 tracks; 54.04 minutes

Mighty Sam McClain has been recording for many years and has an impressive back catalogue across a number of labels. In 2010 he recorded with Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat and that is where he met Norwegian guitarist Knut Reiersrud. Knut has recorded in a very wide variety of contexts, including the blues and the two obviously hit it off, deciding to record an old-style soul album together. The recording was made in Oslo with an all Norwegian cast of musicians. The CD contains a mix of covers and original material written by Sam, Knut and his regular lyricist Jeffrey Wasserman.

The recording is of high quality, the sound of the instruments and Sam’s voice being crystal clear. The material is definitely soul/gospel rather than blues, with several songs about religious rather than secular love; title track “One Drop Is Plenty” is probably the best example, a stately hymn expressing Sam’s faith. On the secular side of the divide “Can You Stand The Test Of Love” is a smooth soul ballad with some classy guitar playing.

Most of the songs are gentle ballads and I’m afraid that I did not find the material sufficiently memorable to sustain my interest and full attention. For example Jerry Ragavoy’s “You Don’t Know Nothing About Love” has some strong, pleading vocals from Sam but plods along for almost 6 minutes. “Learn How To Love You Again” has a touch of country ballad about it and some resemblance in the chorus to Kenny Rogers’ “Lucille” – personally I would have preferred BB King’s Lucille. The Reverend James Cleveland’s “I Don’t Feel Noways Tired” also has a country feel, even down to the spoken intro, though once the song proper starts it is clearly a gospel piece, emphasized by the churchy organ which also is a feature of the closing track “Open Up Heaven’s Door”. The most upbeat track here is “Love One Another” which has a far more active drum beat behind it but a dull and repetitive lyric.

Overall I was disappointed in this CD, as I am a big fan of what is usually dubbed “soul blues”. Mighty Sam McClain has a strong, soulful voice and Knut Reiersrud is a decent guitar player, but, for me, the material here is simply not strong enough. I would class this CD as gospel/soul, with very little blues content.

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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