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New York Central

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Album Review

Love is the main source of the blues, says Son House in his extended introduction to this live performance made after his 1960s rediscovery, and he's not talking about the love of God, he makes a point of saying. Yet, while it's romantic troubles he has in mind, somehow religion never seems to be far from his thoughts. In "A True Friend Is Hard to Find," this former minister jokes, "I want to be a Baptist preacher/So I wouldn't have to work." On most of this album, House accompanies himself on a sparsely picked slide guitar, creating a minimalist effect. But on "Change Your Mind," he demonstrates his fingerpicking ability, playing in a style more reminiscent of Mississippi John Hurt. The confluence of religious and romantic love may occur to him because he is also so concerned with death, as he makes clear in "Judgement Day." But even when the object of his affection seems to be alive and healthy, things aren't easy. As he notes more than once, it's hard to love someone who doesn't love you.

Biography

Born: 21 March 1902 in Riverton, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Son House's place, not only in the history of Delta blues, but in the overall history of the music, is a very high one indeed. He was a major innovator of the Delta style, along with his playing partners Charley Patton and Willie Brown. Few listening experiences in the blues are as intense as hearing one of Son House's original 1930s recordings for the Paramount label. Entombed in a hailstorm of surface noise and scratches, one can still be awestruck by the emotional fervor House puts into his singing...
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New York Central, Son House
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