Thursday, December 14, 2017

Jessie Mae Hemphill - Feelin' Good

Hemphill is a recent discovery for me, but as soon as I heard her mix of country blues, fife'n'drum and early Chicago style, I was hooked! This CD is (mostly) a reissue of a 1990 album, with a couple of tracks from an earlier 45 added on.

Jessie Mae has a minimalistic sound, not unlike John Lee Hooker, although she claims Howlin' Wolf as one of her biggest influences. As I said before, she does remind me of RL Burnside, as well, with simple'n'catchy, mesmerizing boogie-blues. She sings of relationships good'n'bad and freely talks of sex, such as in the title track, "Shake It, Baby" and "Cowgirl Blues" (covered excellently by Chicken Snake on their Unholy Rollers LP). She "borrows" from Arthur Crusddup's "Mean Ole Frisco" for "Streamline Train", does a cool take on "Baby, Please Don't Go" and "Rolling and Tumbling", waxes autobiographical in "My Daddy's Blues", gives some boogie-ing holiday cheer in "Merry Christmas, Pretty Baby" and shows herself to be a true Christian in the chain-gang-like chant "Lord, Help the Poor and Needy".

I love this style of blues anyway and have been knocked out by Hemphill's take on it all. Really great!