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November 2021
 

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KingfishSeveral years ago, one of my friends sent me a video clip of Christone “Kingfish” Ingram performing at a Clarksdale club with the message, “You’ve got to check this kid out. I think he’s maybe 14 years old!!” I know this is a tale that’s been told over and over again by blues fans all over the world, and I can assure you that my reaction was the same as all the others. I was simply blown away by his playing. Ingram didn’t just wail away on the guitar, his solos were naturally enthusiastic and energetic in their presentation, but there was a crispness and a sharpness, and an amazing maturity to his performance that belied his youth. As time passed, I got to find out more about the young man and I was as impressed with him as I was with his guitar work.

662 (Alligator Records) is Ingram’s second release and to these ears, it’s a more personal effort, focusing a lot on the guitarist’s Mississippi roots and mixing in a bit more funk and R&B to the mix. Like it’s predecessor, 662 was recorded in Nashville, with producer Tom Hambridge behind the board (and drum kit) as well as collaborating on the 14 tracks with Ingram, Richard Fleming, and Ashley Ray. I’m not sure how much Ingram collaborated on the lyrics, but he delivers them in a manner that indicates he contributed quite a bit from his own personal experience. His vocals are rapidly approaching his guitar prowess.

The blues rock title track describes Ingram’s hometown (area code 662) in vivid detail, capturing the summer heat and humidity as well as its standing as the birthplace of the blues. The second half of the track features a scorching guitar run. “She Calls Me Kingfish” and “Long Distance Woman” discuss the difficulties of finding and maintaining relationships, while the soulful “Another Life Goes By” reflects on the current state of affairs.

The driving rocker “Not Gonna Lie” finds Ingram grateful that his talent has enabled him to avoid many of the difficulties he might have faced otherwise as he promises to keep the blues alive.  On the funky “Too Young To Remember,” he pays tribute to the old juke joints that used to permeate the Delta long before he was born, paying tribute to those blues legends who had to pay their dues in those establishments, includng B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, and Lightnin’ Hopkins.

“You’re Already Gone” is a softer, acoustic ballad that looks at the end of a relationship, and on a similar note, albeit in a tough electric shuffle format, “My Bad,” focuses on mistakes made in a relationship. “That’s All It Takes” is a a fine soul blues number with horns that shows Ingram coming into his own as a vocalist, and “I Got To See You” is a catchy, up-tempo rocker.

“Your Time Is Gonna Come” is a splendid slow burner as Ingram supplies some sweet guitar work complemented by Marty Sammon on piano. “That’s What You Do” recounts the trials and tribulations of a traveling blues man, and “Something In The Dirt” revisits the theme of the title track, focusing more on the source of the blues and the actual blues scene this time around.

That’s the actual conclusion of the album itself, but there’s a “bonus” track included. “Rock & Roll” is a poignant tribute to Ingram’s mom, Princess Latrell Pride Ingram, who passed away in December of 2019. I think Ms. Ingram would be proud of this fine tribute.

While I loved Kingfish for its straightforward introduction to the incredible talent of Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, I think I like 662 a little bit better because the guitarist expands on his sound, features some powerful, even heartfelt, compositions, and pays tribute to the place of his birth, the land where the blues began.

--- Graham Clarke

 

 

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