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Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John

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Album Review

In 2001, Peter Case produced an all-star tribute album honoring the music of Mississippi John Hurt, Avalon Blues, so with a title like Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John, it's not hard to imagine he's chosen to pay homage to another great country blues artist, Sleepy John Estes. As it happens, the album features ten new songs from Case (along with one traditional blues tune, "Get Away Blues"), and the album's blues influences are generally more a matter of approach and attitude rather than the adoption of any strict musical templates, but Case does follow the "less is more" approach of classic blues. Most of the songs feature just Case and his acoustic guitar, and the lyrics often dwell on bad luck and trouble as they manifest themselves in the modern world, from the multi-millionaire jailbird in "Million Dollars Bail" and the knocked-down street people of "Underneath the Stars" to the washed-up boxer of "Palookaville" and the big city malaise of "Ain't Gonna Worry No More" (which concludes with the spectral appearance of Lightnin' Hopkins at a local saloon). Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John suggests the lean musical structures of Case's 1998 album Full Service No Waiting fused with the storytelling sense of 1989's The Man with the Blue Post-Modern Fragmented Neo-Traditional Guitar, and the result is one of Case's most satisfying albums in years; as a lyricist, Case hits his targets dead on with these songs, and musically the Spartan arrangements favor the sturdy beauty of his melodies, and when he does bring in an accompanist — Richard Thompson on "Every 24 Hours," Duane Jarvis on "I'm Gonna Change My Ways," Carlos Guitarlos on "Underneath the Stars" — he makes their presence count. And if Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John is dominated by the realities of life on the streets in Big City U.S.A., Case also finds some genuine inspiration in the ineffable mysteries of life, and "Every 24 Hours" and "That Soul Twist" bookend this album with an unpretentious beauty and a simple joy in world that changes with every sunrise; this is a splendid album from a truly gifted artist.

Customer Reviews

Peter's strongest album in a long time

Peter Case is one of the world's great undiscovered songwriters. "Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John" isn't likely to change this, but after the lacklustre "Beehive" it is great to see him pick up his guitar and hear him muse on politics, love and faith in the 21st Century. "Million Dollars Bail" is the most immediate track on here, but I have a real liking for "The Open Road Song". Another thoughtful and profound collection of songs, performed with passion and soul.

Biography

Born: 05 April 1954 in Buffalo, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After his tenure in the proto-power pop band the Nerves, and following the dissolution of his early-'80s Los Angeles rock & roll band the Plimsouls, Peter Case launched a career as an influential American singer/songwriter specializing in fingerpicked acoustic guitar and redemptive story songs about society's outcasts and drifters, delivered in a uniquely soulful folk-rock style. Case's secret weapon is his powerhouse voice; combined with his imaginative and visionary songwriting and his ability...
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