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Robert Finley (from the album Black Bayou available on Easy Eye Sound) (by Lee Zimmerman)
At 70 years of age, Robert Finley can’t exactly be compared to any of today’s young, hip, and happening trendsetters. Yet at the same time, his credibility remains beyond reproach, given that the songs he sings are spawned from the place he calls home, that being the swamps and bayous of his native Louisiana. With Dan Auberach again back behind the boards, Dan’s bandmate, The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, contributing the backbeat and Finley’s daughter and granddaughter helping with backing vocals, Finley’s fourth album since the belated start of his recording career in 2016, marks another step in the musical evolution of an exceptional storyteller and traditional troubadour.
Like the earlier albums that took him out of obscurity and brought belated recognition, Black Bayou is largely autobiographical in terms of its nuanced narratives. His songs are derived from true life circumstance, weaned from a lifetime spent in small town environs where he worked as a carpenter while playing the blues in juke joints and singing Gospel in church. He lost his sight due to a medical malady at age 60, but managed to turn tragedy into triumph by digging deeper into music and sourcing his scenarios. Consequently, he finds real meaning in singing from his soul and biding by the Blues, and indeed each of these selections make that point firmly and effectively.
Ultimately then, these are intimate tales, flush with detail and description, from the Bluesy wail of opening track “Livin’ Out of a Suitcase” (‘what I like the most is the joy that it brings”) to a treacherous tale of close encounter as described in “Alligator Bait”. Nevertheless, Finley eschews pretension and gets to the heart of each circumstance and scenario. “Sneakin’ Around”, with its high-pitched wail, serves as a cautionary tale of sorts intended for a woman who’s clearly up to no good. The steady and steadfast “You Got It (And I Want It)” offers no allusions as to his desire and determination. On the other hand, “Miss Kitty”, the track that follows, offers a demonstrative feeling of affection for Finley’s object of desire. So too, “Lucky Day” allows him to sum up his satisfaction with having found fulfillment.
That said, Finley’s not adverse to expressing feelings of futility and frustration as well, as expressed in the incendiary “Waste of Time,” the determined “What Goes Around (Comes Around)”, and the slow sprawl of “Can’t Blame Me For Trying”. Those songs hew to a more traditional tapestry, but Finely’s forceful delivery firmly and effectively affirms his own credibility. The bottleneck Blues of “Gospel Blues” and the slow but sturdy “Nobody Wants to Be Lonely”, a song describing the isolation and seclusion that comes with life in an old age home, each do the same.
Ultimately, Black Bayou offers another example of Robert Finley’s honest and assured approach. It’s an engaging excursion, and one that leaves listeners consistently engaged. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Robert Finley from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Robert Finley website
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