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Long Way to Memphis

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Album Review

Harmonica Buzz is J.T. Sunden, a Michigan roots and blues harmonica player whose reverence for the form doesn't prevent him from having a whole lot of fun on Long Way to Memphis, his debut album. There is a wonderful, back-porch feel on this disc, but its seemingly loose style actually belies some crisp ensemble playing, and what may appear haphazard here is actually calculatingly exact. This is a hard road to walk, between casual and precise, but it works here, and Long Way to Memphis has charm to burn. Highlights include "The Colin Shuffle," which features some fine guitar from Alonzo Pennington and the marvelous vocal interplay between Michigan Mark DePree and Sara Q on "The Cornbread Jinx." A paean to songwriter Lucy Webster's feet called, amazingly enough, "Lucy's Feet," works surprisingly well, given the odds. A sample of harmonica wizard DeFord Bailey "doing his train" opens "The Miracle Stop," which is perhaps the most impressive track here. There are harmonicas everywhere on these songs, of course, but it would be wrong to call this a harmonica album. It really feels like a personal journey through American roots music with a man who just happens to always carry his harps, just in case.

Long Way to Memphis, Harmonica Buzz
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