Rory Block, one of the great acoustic blues guitarists and musical preservationists of her generation, digs deep into the blues tradition on her latest Telarc recording, From the Dust, which features songs by early Delta masters.
On From the Dust
, slide guitar virtuosa Rory Block has both feet in the blues and at least one hand on the Bible. Her artistry provides a bridge between the spiritual hymnal and the "devil's music" as which the blues has long been branded. Original material such as the title track, "The Gate," and "David Had the Blues" evoke Scripture against the deep groove of Block's propulsive guitar playing, while "Remember" represents a personal testament to the power of faith. These tracks seem to channel the inspiration of the Reverend Gary Davis
, but Block also pays tribute to more secular-minded blues masters, such as Charley Patton
("High Water Everywhere"), Muddy Waters
("I Be Bound"), Robert Johnson
("Stones in My Passageway"), and Son House
("Dry Spell Blues"), matching her command of their instrumental styles with her breathy, sensual vocals. Other material ranges from the playful affection she shows her pets on "Runaway Dog" to the seedier slice of life, "Fargo Baby." Though the recording presents Block solo and acoustic, multitracking enhances some of the arrangements, while the performances frequently carry an electric charge. --Don McLeese