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Butt Naked Free

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Album Review

Making sure that country-blues starts the 21st century off on the right foot, Guy Davis' Butt Naked Free, whose title was inspired by the comments of Davis' young son, is one of the most accomplished statements the genre has offered in a few years. Picking up where 1998's You Don't Know My Mind left off, Davis once again has decided to fill out his sound, but this time adding touches of mandolin, organ and accordion, with the results being altogether more satisfying and never sounding even slightly overproduced. Where Davis on his previous album sounded, at times, unsure of his new direction, Butt Naked Free rocks with a loose liveliness, still allowing Davis' derivative yet idiosyncratic sound to shine through. "Waiting on the Cards to Fall" and "Never Met No Woman Treats Me Like You Do," the latter with Levon Helm contributing drums and mandolin, showcase how well Davis' sound fills out and offers the unique experience of hearing what it might have sounded like if Mance Lipscomb or Reverend Gary Davis had ever recorded with full-band accompaniment. Ballads like "Let Me Stay a While" and the narrative "Sugar Belle Blue" are some of the strongest Davis has written and, if anything, benefit considerably from the more filled out sound. Of course, Davis still delivers more than a few of his stripped-down solo country-blues tunes with the humorous "High Flying Rocket," the mean slide playing on "Come On Sally Hitch a Ride," and the gorgeous instrumental "The Place Where I'm From (Butt Naked Free)." More than anything, Butt Naked Free shows that Guy Davis is still more than happy to carry the banner of country-blues, yet remains able to add to the dialogue of the genre and put his own stamp on it in the process.


Born: May 12, 1952 in New York, NY

Genre: Blues

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

Updating the rural blues tradition for the modern era, Guy Davis was among the most prominent ambassadors of African-American art and culture of his generation, additionally winning great acclaim for his work in the theater. The son of the noted actors, directors, and activists Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, he was born in New York City on May 12, 1952; though raised in the city, Davis was frequently regaled with stories of Southern country life as a child, and over time became so enamored of the music...
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