Benton County Relic
Single Lock Records
Cedric Burnside hit the road touring with his father (drummer Calvin Jackson) and grandfather (the larger than life R.L. Burnside) when he was only 13, and now, at 40, he’s released his eighth record, Benton County Relic. Recorded in Brooklyn and at Ardent Studios in Memphis, it sounds like the Hill Country blues he was raised on, gritty and lean, born of juke joints, cheap guitars and even cheaper whiskey.
It’s a duo record, with Burnside on drums, guitar and vocals with Brian Jay (The Pimps of Joytime) producing and playing drums, guitar and vocals, but what they might lack in numbers they surely make up for in groove. From the first moment of “We Made It” the template is set- primal drums propelling a relentless guitar drive. You really can’t tell the year of this stuff. It could be a track from a sixties Arhoolie Records comp, or a just-released Black Keys/White Stripes jam. The best blues are timeless, and Benton County Relic would hold its own compared to classics of the Hill Country sound, such as R.L. Burnside’s A Ass Pocket of Whiskey or T. Model Ford’s Pee-Wee Get My Gun.
This is the real blues, none of this SRV-related wannabe crap. No, this is the blues stripped bare, with droning guitars and gruff vocals singing about “Death Bell Blues” and “Ain’t Gonna Take No Mess”. In a word…perfect.