Wish Her Well

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Wish Her Well

Buddy Guy recently said, “…all the great blues players are just about gone. And I'm not a baby anymore. I got a birthday coming up, I'll be 86. We used to talk about it with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, and all of those guys. They still was in their best health then, and we used to talk about this day, 'Who would be left... please, don't let the blues die.'"

Buddy may have been musing about the pioneering blues forefathers, but he should be content in the knowledge that the blues, in its many forms, continues to prosper, delight and inspire, and indeed is enjoying a decades-long renaissance wherever that Elmore James lick survives, and Walter Horton’s blues harp influences are heard. That includes Teesside in NE England, the home ground of Emma Wilson, whose reputation as one of Europe’s foremost blues interpreters, writers and singers will be enhanced significantly by the release of Wish Her Well.

With inventive arrangements of ten original songs over forty minutes, Wish Her Well is a triumph from beginning to end, with drummer Mat Hector, Mark Neary on bass, and guitarist Adam Chetwood, comprising an ego-free band wholly-attuned to the singer and the song. Any ‘purist’ seeking chugging twelve-bars, or close melodic relatives of ‘Stormy Monday’ may have to look elsewhere, for the variety of Wish Her Well is a defining strength.

Emma’s always in control. There are no histrionics, or vocal acrobatics. Indeed, the album’s soul is occasionally flavoured by pop in ‘Mary Lou’, is infectiously-funky as she explores her impressive vocal range in ‘She Isn’t You’, and she comes on like a late-night edgy jazz performer in the rhythmically-skewed ‘Blossom Like Snow’. In ‘Little Love Bites’, a longing soul ballad, the coda displays vocal clarity with a purity almost worthy of Judy Collins.

Her band too provide intuitively-sympathetic backing and are highly-skilled but unobtrusive, best demonstrated on the minimalist title track, where kick drum, bottleneck and pedal bass combine subtly to enhance the song and allow the singer to get her message over. ‘Nuthin’ I Won’t Do’ allows the players’ dexterity to shine, but without ever overplaying or stepping over the mark.

Any success Wish Her Well achieves will be more than deserved.


Date added: Jul 17, 2022

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