Music Reviews
Albert Cummings

Albert Cummings

Strong

Ivy Music Company

Albert Cummings grew up playing bluegrass banjo in Massachusetts. Then he saw Stevie Ray Vaughn and became a blues disciple. Cummings actually cut his first solo album with Double Trouble (Vaughn’s rhythm section) backing him. He cut several well-received albums for Blind Pig records, and Strong is his second outing with Ivy Music Company.

Cummings recorded Strong in Nashville with drummer and producer Tom Hambridge. Hambridge is well versed in traditional blues, having worked with Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, and many others. Together, they recorded a dozen tracks of fiery, roadhouse-ready blues. The record has the feel of a live performance that reminds me a bit of Fandango era ZZ Top. All that’s missing are the crowd shouting and the sweat.

Eleven of the twelve songs on Strong are Cummings compositions. The loan cover is a rowdy version of John Lennon’s “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.” The album kicks off with the ass-shaking boogie of “Emmy Lou.” The song warns you about the salacious heartbreaker down at the local diner. The siren masquerading as a waitress is likely to put a spell on you if you don’t watch out. “Live Strong” could be sung by one of Emmy’s conquests/victims. Albert sings about being a man done wrong by a woman who only puts him down and shows him off around town. Albert asserts that he’s going to live strong, and someday she’ll have to eat her words.

Albert lays back with some slow-burning jams that let him show off his BB King-esque emotional singing and guitar playing. I like the interplay between the guitar and piano on “Goin’ Down Slow.” Cummings closes the record with an emotional, acoustic country song, “My Sister’s Guitar.” Playing that guitar brings back memories of when she played for him. Now that she’s gone, he remembers her every time he plays that guitar.

Strong is a solid outing from a journeyman blues man. The album sounds like a live jam, so I expect that he’ll burn down the house if you get a chance to see him live.

Albert Cummings


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