The Dave Riley blues style is marked with equal parts authenticity and guts. With blues singer/guitarists currently available at a dime for the dozen, it is refreshing to be confronted with a dose of originality. New York’s Fedora Records seeks to keep the blues in its elliptical orbit through featuring such musicians as Riley, a fearless practitioner whose music is fueled by his own encounters with life’s blue junctures. His music is succinctly delivered through meaty crunch chords, layered precision picking, and a voice that bellows with authority and mobility. Whiskey, Money & Women I laced with a tone of granulated joy and redemption. Riley, who spent 25 in the correctional circuit as a guard in Illinois’s Joliet State Penitentiary, is a reformed addict and Vietnam veteran. He is joined by son, Dave Riley, Jr., snap-drummer Sam Carr, and Arkansas harp man, John Weston. The bulk of the music is played as a blues power trio. They open the disc with Detroit Jr.’s infectious “Call My Job.” Riley makes the tune his own, tactfully placing 7’s and 9’s in the rhythms and spilling filler riffs with grace and accuracy. “Tribute,” which features Riley alone with his guitar, cites such forerunners as Elmore James, Wes Montgomery, and Texas slinger Freddie King as masters, Riley acknowledging their powers in the artform and humbly taking the torch for his passion. He further pays tribute, ripping through standards by Howlin’ Wolf and BB King (“Smokestack Lightning” and “Angel of Mercy”). Oddly enough, the record closes with a soulful take on John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The number begins with a monologue that calls attention to grade school violence. Riley’s chord strumming is choppy at best, but his intentions are forthright. This record makes a fine introduction to a Southern unsung bluesman.
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