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Arthur Louis

BlackCat

www.arthurlouis.co.uk

Black Cat Records are putting this out via Proper and as veteran singer Arthur explains in the liner notes, the album revisits some of his greater moments but also adds some newer songs including the title cut and ‘New Harvest’.

This scribe is hardly neutral on Arthur Louis – we met a few years back when he played some shows at the Venue off Leicester Square in London and I ended up compering the second of these. Arthur let me play the white Strat given to him way back at a music bar by one Jimi Hendrix (there was a hole in the upper horn where Jimi had flipped it to play left-handed !) and then a few weeks later when my band played the 100 Club to help launch a blues DVD series and Louis appeared, I immediately invited him to sing and play with us.

Born in Jamaica and relocated at a young age to Brooklyn, Louis was exposed to all kinds of music ; later he made friends with Eric Clapton leading to EC playing guitar on Arthur’s recordings.

The musicians on these recordings really are the cream of the crop and they include sublime singer Noel McCalla, horn maestro Nick Payn and ace drummer Blair Cunningham. Arthur’s voice is tinged with a dry warmth and his delivery edges towards the poetic. The words matter, to Arthur Louis. He is equally at home on Caribbean tinged songs, hard bluesrockers such as ‘Fast Car’ and reflective material and perhaps this results from his well-travelled past and willingness to soak up what he hears. In an interview I had with Arthur it is clear that the news can fuel his muse so the world is his engine, in that respect.

From the eerie slide and rich horn burst of opener ‘Born To Sing the Blues’, Louis has your attention and the mix shows his pipes to good advantage. Outside of the mighty Taj Mahal perhaps no other artist has quite this global touch; every now and again I hear echoes of Sleepy John Estes but of course these are contemporary settings hewn from roots styles. Hence fleet and biting guitar solos from Les Davidson and Winston Delandro sound oh so right. The orchestral ambience of ‘Black Cat’ adds a filmic quality before the track starts to skank – delicious ! The latenight roll of ‘End Of An Era’ is the ultimate in intimate vulnerability, a song easing its way out of pain and what a chorale and counterpoint melody over the verses….Closer ‘Rose A London’ is a tough chugger with a mean guitar line.

Arthur Louis – where experience fuels music by turns mellow and incisive. Welcome back, boss

Pete Sargeant    www.fairhearing.co.uk

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