Michael Messer - Second Mind
English born guitarist Michael Messer has enjoyed increased popularity of late, and now his two more famous albums have been reissued by Cooking Vinyl in the UK, where they hope to achieve wider acclaim. Originally released in 2002, Second Mind followed the success of King Guitar, a compilation album of his greatest work.
Deeply rooted in and inflected with the blues, the album features Messer's regular band, plus Ruby Turner on backing vocals. DJ Louie Genis also performs on the album, attempting to give it a contemporary edge. Therefore, amid the blues licks, we even get a little bit of scratching here and there. The album won the Best Blues Guitar Album at the 2003 International Guitar Federation awards, beating other nominees including Chris Rea, Sonny Landreth and Eric Bibb. All big names in the blues scene, so I'm told.
The production on this album is mostly excellent - Messer has a dark, rich voice, full of soul. The guitars are smooth, and full of reverb, particularly on Big Wind, which brings to mind The End by The Doors, a sinister vibe carrying the song through. Elsewhere, the album is mostly pretty up and positive - despite the title, Bluer than Blue is quite a pacey little number, full of harmonicas and shuffling backbeats.
As noted, there is an attempt to liven things up with DJ Genis, but to be honest it gets a bit boring after a while. The scratching seems like a bit of a novelty at first, but soon starts to get on your nerves as it pops up on far to many of the songs. Better are the times when Messer just allows his band to play, particularly on the excellent Tall Feather Blues, which has a great atmosphere to it.
If you don't like blues music, you won't like this. It doesn't matter how much clever scratchy-scratchy noise you put on it, it is not going to be for everyone. However, if blues is your thing, and why not, you will love this collection of a master at work.