The older, the better

Funny thing about getting older: You get a few curves in the road. Like getting a Buddy Guy album to review. And major label or not, this sucker deserves a review.

Buddy Guy
Born to Play Guitar
The album title is right. Guy has a fine blues voice, but he sings with his guitar. Which is why bringing on guest vocalists like Joss Stone, Van Morrison (!), Kim Wilson and Billy Gibbons makes sense. Letting Gibbons throw in some fine Topsian guitar work is nice, too.

The "solo" songs are more along the line of the electrified rural blues that Guy has been slinging for the past couple of decades. I heard an interview with him ages ago where he lamented that Hendrix stole his thunder in the way back. Listening to his 60s output, that makes some sense. But these days Guy is content to blister his way through more conventional arrangements--conventional, but very satisfying.

He's earned the right to play just about whatever he wants. And when he heats up, he's still one of the most formidable axemen around. Guy has always been one of the most expressive players, and Tom Hambridge's sonic settings give him all the room he needs.

I don't know how long Guy will last, but with albums like this and 2013's Rhythm and Blues, I can't think of a reason why he would quit. If he's slowing down, the results aren't showing up on the albums. I haven't seen him live in a few years, but the experience has always been thrilling. I imagine that is still the case.

One last note: If you think this album starts a little rote, give it a few tracks. The accumulated effect becomes overwhelming, and about midway the album really takes off. This one may be by the book, but Guy writes some seriously thrilling prose.

Jon Worley

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