Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

HANS THEESSINK

SLOW TRAIN

2007-10-24

Traveling the same rootsy highway as J.J. Cale, Ry Cooder and Steve James, Dutch bluesman Hans Theessink has crafted a large body of work that is mostly unknown to American blues fans. Avoiding the boogies, shuffles and standard 12 bar blues laid down by most bands Theessink instead focuses on intricate acoustic tunes with a low key vibe that are just as powerful in their intricacy as the amped up blues competition. Theessink also focuses on a broader range of topics than the standard blues canon of bad luck, bad women and bad whisky. Driving the point home all the more is the decided gospel slant of this disc. The title track and "Love you baby" could have fallen off a Blind Boys of Alabama disc with the rich back up vocals adding heat to the fire. Theessink also joins the long line of those who can’t understand spouting God’s word of peace and harmony all the while bombing the snot out of each other, "God Created the World". Elsewhere, Theessink takes a run at traditional spirituals with his bitter take on how the poor got screwed again, this time at the hands of "Katrina". A bit of World Beat enters the equation with "Thula Mama (Oh mother don’t you weep)" which could have fallen from a Ladysmith Black Mambazo disc (who clearly inspired the sound of this track as acknowledged by Theessink’s reference to the Graceland Tour as a point of reference in the lyrics). On "Let Go" and "Run on for a Long time" Theessink not only travels the J. J. Cale highway but with his simple, yet burning, guitar lines and dead pan delivery channels Cale so closely that you’ll be checking the liner notes to see if he’s sitting in on the session. A slow trip but worthwhile nevertheless. Smitty www.theessink.com

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